If there's one thing we know about President Trump, it's that he won't tolerate America getting a raw deal. When it happened in trade pacts, he renegotiated. When it happened with COVID, he tore up WHO's check. If someone tries to take advantage of this country, they're going to pay a real price -- no matter who they are. And if the U.N. isn't careful, it might just be next.
Maybe U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres thinks U.S. leaders don't have nerve to threaten their budget. But now probably isn't the best time to test that theory, not with the White House swearing off groups that work in contradiction to American values. Now, with the U.S. chipping in more than its share to the world's virus relief, the president was more than a little disturbed to find out that the virus wasn't all the U.N. had in mind. Instead of using our aid to help humans, Guterres's team decided to target them -- using our tax dollars, and the tax dollars of nations around the world, to promote abortion.
Acting USAID Administrator John Barsa was horrified along with the rest of the administration and fired off a letter demanding to know why the U.N. would be using a pandemic to advance a platform of death. America's contributions, he argued, are for "life-saving interventions," not abortion. Surely when the United States agreed to fight COVID, it shouldn't have had to specify that killing unborn children isn't part of the plan. He asked for the U.N. to immediately scrub every reference to "sexual and reproductive health" from the Global Humanitarian Response Plan (GHRP).
This week, the U.N. decided to ignore Barsa's rebuke -- and instead issue one of their own. It isn't the United Nations who should be embarrassed, the group's Human Rights Council insisted, but America -- for trying to "limit abortion" during the coronavirus outbreak. "U.N. experts are concerned some U.S. states -- such as Texas, Oklahoma, Alabama, Iowa, Ohio, Arkansas, Louisiana and Tennessee -- appear to be manipulating the crisis to severely restrict women's reproductive rights." As if that weren't enough overreach, the Office of the High Commissioner went further, accusing these leaders of endangering women and "exacerbating inequalities."
It is of "extreme concern," the office insisted, that the U.S. would even think of taking abortion off the table of worldwide relief. "We reiterate that sexual and reproductive health services, including access to safe and legal abortion, are essential and must remain a key component of the U.N.'s priorities in its responses to the COVID-19 pandemic."
How's that for a "thank you" for our $43 million humanitarian donation? For starters, it's none of the U.N.'s business how the governors handle our crisis. It is, however, America's business when our dollars are being funneled to a practice that a majority of Americans oppose funding. The idea, John told me on "Washington Watch," that our generosity would be exploited -- especially when the U.N. knows the administration's position on life -- is, quite frankly, insulting. "As the greatest donor to the United Nations and these programs, we want nothing of [their abortion crusade]."
With the U.S. and U.N. at loggerheads, it will be interesting to see where the conversation goes. The U.N. Human Rights Council, which, as NRO's Alexandra Desanctis points out, is "rather inaptly named, considering its dogmatic insistence on the killing of unborn human beings," continues to disrespect countries by rubbing their radical activism in our face. That won't sit well with a president who stood in front of that same body and insisted the U.N. has "no business attacking the sovereignty of nations that wish to protect innocent life."
Unlike the World Health Organization, the president doesn't have full discretion over our U.N. funds. But he does have input into USAID's contributions, and his administration certainly hasn't been afraid to pull the plug on U.S. dollars at the U.N. over abortion or key issues like Israel and Iraqi's persecuted. In the meantime, we applaud John Barsa for taking a stand -- and hope the White House follows with another of its own.