Netherlands plans international safe abortion fund

By Patricia Greig

The international community is taking on Trump's move to squash women's health rights. Photo / Getty Images
The international community is taking on Trump's move to squash women's health rights. Photo / Getty Images

President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Tuesday which banned non-governmental organisations from receiving foreign aid or federal funding if they perform abortion services or give out information about abortion.

Known as the Global Gag Rule, Trump signed the order a day after the 44th anniversary of the Roe v Wade Supreme Court decision that legalised abortion in the United States.

The rule was first signed in 1984 by Ronald Reagan, and has been repealed and replaced ever since, depending on whether a Republican or Democratic president is in the Oval Office.

The Gag Rule means that healthcare providers who rely on US aid have to choose between talking about safe abortion or having money to operate as a resource.

The executive order has created a funding gap of about $600 million for hundreds of charities around the world, but with reproductive rights on the chopping block, the Netherlands has stepped in with a master plan.

Lilianne Ploumen announced the plan to set up an international safe abortion fund. Photo / Getty Images
Lilianne Ploumen announced the plan to set up an international safe abortion fund. Photo / Getty Images

"We're in talks with 15 to 20 countries and we've also spoken to foundations," Dutch international development minister, Lilianne Ploumen told the Guardian, "As well as contacting a number of European countries that we work with on these issues, we're also in touch with countries in South America and Africa, as well as the foundations. It's important to have the broadest possible support for the fund."

Ploumen did not reveal which countries would contribute but did say that funding will to go to established programs run by charities like the United Nations Population Fund (UNPFA), the International Planned Parenthood Federation and Marie Stopes International.

"These are successful and effective programs: direct support, distributing condoms, making sure women are accompanied at the birth, and making sure abortion is safe if they have no other choice," Ploumen added.

While acknowledging the enormity of the task, Ploumen assured "We respect the decisions of a democratically elected president, but we're democratically elected too and we can make different decisions."

The president, who once said that women who have abortions should receive "some sort of punishment," is reportedly poised to defund the USA's Planned Parenthood.

"President Trump's reinstatement of the Global Gag Rule ignores decades of research, instead favouring ideological politics over women and families," said Senator Jeanne Shaheen.

"We know that when family planning services and contraceptives are easily accessible, there are fewer unplanned pregnancies, maternal deaths, and abortions. And when women have control over their reproductive health, it improves the long-term health of mothers and children and creates a lasting economic benefit."

- NZ Herald

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