The president-elect’s stance on reproductive health makes a big difference to contraceptive access for people at home and abroad.
By Francie Diep
A close-up of contraceptive pills, dated September 1966. (Photo: Evening Standard/Getty Images)
The president’s views on reproductive health don’t only have an effect on Americans; they matter to families abroad too. The United States is the No. 1 outside funder of contraception for people in low-income countries, NBC News reports—a fact that’s left many family-planning charity groups worried about what their finances will look like once Donald Trump takes the presidency.
“We are at the mercy of U.S. political and funding decisions,” Sarah Craven, an office director for the United Nations Population Fund, told NBC News.
Trump hasn’t said much about how he views the U.S.’s international contraceptive aid spending, but he’s made other comments that suggest he won’t make it a priority. Throughout his campaign, Trump promised to defund Planned Parenthood, a major provider of contraceptives to low-income Americans, because it offers abortions. That’s despite his admitting that “millions and millions of women — cervical cancer, breast cancer — are helped by Planned Parenthood.” His stance suggests he’s willing to undermine an organization’s contraceptive and reproductive health work over abortions, which many family planning-focused groups either provide directly or provide references for.
Supporters of contraception aid say it fosters goodwill for the U.S. and nurtures the world economy because family planning frees young parents to finish school and ultimately be more productive workers. But Trump’s speeches on foreign policy suggest he doesn’t see the value of spending on other nations in general.
Trump may decide simply not to fund certain international family-planning programs, much like George W. Bush did. Bush pulled U.S. aid money away from the U.N. Population Fund and banned taxpayer dollars from going to any international group that performed or provided information about abortions, as NBC News reports. (The Obama administration reversed many of Bush’s decisions about international contraception aid.)
Trump may also direct money to projects more in line with his and his allies’ ideologies. That also happened under Bush: In 2004, the U.S. launched abstinence and faithfulness campaigns in sub-Saharan Africa in a bid to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS. Despite the strong evidence that emerged in 20o7 suggesting federally funded abstinence-only sex ed didn’t keep American teenagers from having multiple sexual partners, the Bush administration continued to pay for abstinence-focused public service announcements in Africa. A study completed last year showed that the $1.4 billion the U.S. has spent on abstinence and faithfulness in Africa has made no difference to whether people engaged in risky behaviors such as having many partners or having sex without a condom.
Such a program may have support in the Trump administration. In 2003, Vice President-elect Mike Pence told Congress, “The timeless values of abstinence and marital faithfulness before condom distribution are the cure for what ails the families of Africa.”