(January 2017) The policies of U.S. presidential administrations can influence foreign assistance funding and implementation, particularly around family planning and reproductive health. In light of the November U.S. presidential election, on Dec. 13 the PACE Project hosted an Africa PHE quarterly webinar with guest speaker, Teresa Casale, senior advocacy associate at PAI, to discuss how President-elect Donald Trump’s administration may impact U.S. government global funding for family planning and reproductive health. The webinar was facilitated by Smita Gaith and Kristen P. Patterson of Population Reference Bureau (PRB)’s Population, Health, and Environment (PHE) Program.

Casale explained that President-elect Trump’s campaign platform called for greater investments in domestic priorities, such as infrastructure, and divestments from multilateral agencies, such as the United Nations. Vice President-elect Mike Pence has a long record of voting for global health spending, including voting in 2003 for the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), which provided $15 billion to fight AIDS and tuberculosis in Africa, and in 2008, backing legislation that authorized $50 billion more for PEPFAR and for the President’s Malaria Initiative. Domestically, Pence has favored conservative laws on family planning and abortion. While no one can speak definitively about specific policies that might be enacted, Casale shared a few insights into how the funding landscape for family planning and reproductive health might be affected.

For example, the international reproductive health community anticipates a reinstatement of the Mexico City Policy, which has been in place under all Republican presidential administrations since 1984. The policy requires nongovernmental organizations to agree as a condition of their receipt of federal funds that their organizations would neither perform nor actively promote abortion as a method of family planning in other nations. Casale explained that this policy could significantly affect the funding landscape for several family planning and reproductive health organizations around the world, some of which also support integrated PHE activities.

Casale also drew attention to threats to funding for UNFPA. Since 1985, Republican administrations have determined UNFPA to be in violation of the Kemp-Kasten Amendment which denies federal funding to organizations or programs that, as determined by the President, support or participate in a program of coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization. UNFPA is also facing funding challenges arising as a result of Britain’s decision to leave the European Union (“Brexit”). During the Q&A session, Casale offered that reduced bilateral funding might be an opportunity for countries that have depended on international donors in the past to mobilize domestic resources to fund their family planning programs (including contraceptive supplies) by dedicating a bigger line item in their national budgets for family planning.

Following the presentation, Gaith and Patterson facilitated a robust discussion with questions from audience members who represented several different bilateral and multilateral agencies and organizations, as well as large and small PHE implementing organizations from around the world.

This webinar is part of the Africa PHE webinar series implemented under the Policy, Advocacy, and Communication Enhanced for Population and Reproductive Health (PACE) Project. For regular updates about PHE news, opportunities, resources, and other events, sign up for the Africa PHE Updates monthly newsletter by emailing AfricaPHE@prb.org and follow @AfricaPHE on Twitter.