Luxembourg, Belgium, Canada, Sweden, and Finland are among the 13 countries thus far to have expressed support for the Dutch initiative to pool international funds for family planning services. These efforts come as a response to an executive decision by U.S. President Donald Trump to reinstate the Global Gag Rule. This prohibits international organizations receiving U.S. funds from providing abortion services. The Dutch government has pledged $10.7M, and aid minister Lilianne Ploumen is hopeful the initiative’s goal of $600M can be reached through international contributions.
Other supporting countries and organizations will announce how much they will contribute in an international conference on March 2nd in Belgium.
The She Decides – Global Fundraising Initiative is a cooperative effort by Dutch reproductive health organization Rutgers and the Dutch ministry of foreign affairs to replace the approximately $600M in funding lost in Trump’s decision. According to the Guttmacher Institute, that sum in U.S. international family planning assistance allowed reproductive health programs to avert six million unwanted pregnancies and 11,000 maternal deaths in 2016 alone. The International Planned Parenthood Federation is refusing to comply with the Global Gag Rule, stating, “We cannot – and will not – deny life-saving services to the world’s poorest women.”
The website for the initiative was launched at the end of January, and provides bank account information for donors. In the first week since its launch, over $150,000 in private donations has as already been received.
The Global Gag Rule is also known as the Mexico City Policy. Already, under the Helms Amendment, U.S. funds cannot directly finance abortions. However, this policy means organizations receiving U.S. funding may not provide such services, even when the funds are acquired elsewhere.
Global gag rule is back: One of Trump’s first actions targets the world’s women, Global Fund for Women, (no date).
Dutch Give $10.7M to Fund Women’s Global Health After Trump Imperils It, Forbes, 30 January, 2017.
Feminist Standpoints on the Global Gag Rule, AWID Women’s Rights, 1 February, 2017.
For Canadians: Send this letter to your MP urging them to protest the Trump decision.