The US government plans to stop funding the United Nations Population Fund because of the organization's "coercive" family planning practices, including providing abortions, officials in Washington said late Monday.
According to a State Department official, President Donald Trump has instructed Secretary of State Rex Tillerson "to take all necessary actions, to the extent permitted by law, to ensure that US taxpayer dollars do not fund organizations or programs that support or participate in the management of a program of coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization."
The funding cut would go into effect during the 2017 fiscal year, the official said in a statement.
The decision to terminate US donations to the UN agency was "based on the fact that China's family planning policies still involve the use of coercive abortion and involuntary sterilization, and UNFPA partners on family planning activities with the Chinese government agency responsible for these coercive policies," the statement said.
"The determination will result in withholding $32.5 million of fiscal year 2017 funding, provided for UNFPA," it said, adding that the funds instead will be directed to other global health programs.
The UN Population Fund in 2015 received contributions totaling $979 million, according to its website.
The organization, which provides reproductive health and birth control services in more than 150 countries and territories, said early Tuesday that it "regrets" the decision by Washington "to deny any future funding for its life-saving work the world over."
UNFPA said in a statement in which it also vigorously pushed back against "erroneous" US charges that it plays a role in forced abortions and sterilizations in China.
"UNFPA refutes this claim, as all of its work promotes the human rights of individuals and couples to make their own decisions, free of coercion or discrimination," it said.
"Indeed, United Nations Member States have long described UNFPA's work in China as a force for good."
The organization lamented the loss of funding by Washington, a "founding member" of the UNFPA.
The group said it has saved "tens of thousands of mothers from preventable deaths and disabilities, in addition to "combatting gender-based violence and reducing the scourge of maternal deaths in the world's most fragile settings."
And in the controversial area of reproductive choice, the organization said that Washington until now had "partnered with UNFPA to protect and promoted the reproductive health and rights of women and girls, thereby fostering healthier women and girls and their families."