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US withholds cash from UN Population Fund over China abortions

media Nurses hold a baby at a birth center in Beijing in December 2016 AFP

The United States said Tuesday it will again withhold contributions to the UN Population Fund due to its work with China, which controls family size, as the agency accused Washington of jeopardizing women's health.

It marked the third straight year that the United States has refused to fund the UN body as President Donald Trump's administration seeks to combat abortion, a pivotal issue for his evangelical Christian base.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo determined that "China's family planning policies still involve the use of coercive abortion and involuntary sterilization practices," conditions that under US law require an end to funding, a State Department spokeswoman said.

She said that the UN Population Fund's public documents state that "it partners on family planning with the Chinese government agency responsible for these coercive policies."

The agency, known as UNFPA, disputed the finding, saying that it opposes coercive policies and that the United States never visited its country office in China to see for itself.

"This unfortunate decision will impede UNFPA's crucial work to protect the health and lives of hundreds of millions of women and girls around the globe, including in humanitarian settings," it said in a statement, asking the United States to reconsider.

China, seeking to control a burgeoning population, in 1979 imposed a one-child policy on most citizens, leading to forced abortions and sterilizations.

The communist government raised the limit to two children in 2016 and there are signs the policy could be ended entirely, with a draft of the sweeping Civil Code due to be introduced in 2020 not mentioning "family planning."

In 2016, when Barack Obama was president, the United States gave more than $63 million to UNFPA, making it the third largest donor after Britain and Sweden.

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