Acting USAID administrator John Barsa sent a letter to the United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres Monday asking him to stop the organization from using resources allocated to support its efforts in mitigating the spread of the novel coronavirus to promote global abortion access.
“As the largest donor of global health and humanitarian assistance, the United States always has led the world through times of strife, turmoil, and uncertainty. The current pandemic of COVID-19 is no different,” Barsa wrote in the letter.
USAID has allocated $650.7 million to support the world’s efforts in fighting the virus, and $45.3 million of that has been provided to the UN. That’s in addition to $3.5 billion given for the UN’s FY2019 budget.
The UN’s priority during the COVID-19 pandemic, Barsa argued, should be to ensure global health care focused on saving lives, and not “to use the COVID-19 pandemic as a justification to pressure governments to change their laws.”
“To achieve global unity toward this goal, it is essential that the UN’s response to the pandemic avoid creating controversy,” Barsa explained. “Therefore, I ask that you remove references to ‘sexual and reproductive health,’ and its derivatives from the Global HRP, and drop the provision of abortion as an essential component of the UN’s priorities to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
“Member States are deeply divided over the use of the term ‘sexual and reproductive health’ and its derivatives, and it is among the most polarizing issues raised in UN negotiations. The Global HRP, and the activities of UN agencies and bodies moving forward, should use clear language and take clear action to address the real needs of vulnerable people around the world without promoting abortion,” he added.
“Now is not the time to add unnecessary discord to the COVID-19 response. Thank you for your attention to this matter. The United States remains committed to working with you to preserve human life and defeat the pandemic of COVID-19. I wish you good health and safety during these challenging days.”