The Dutch government says it is taking up an initiative to fill the gap in funding for international abortion services following Donald Trump’s executive order to reinstate the so-called Mexico City Policy. And it has found a partner in Canada, whose policymakers say they will be throwing their support behind the global effort.
On Monday, Trump reinstated the Mexico City Policy, or “global gag rule,” which freezes U.S. federal funding to any NGOs that offer abortion services or promote it for family planning guidance. The Reagan-era policy has been rescinded and revived according to party lines since it was introduced in 1984. Experts say Trump’s move actually broadens the scope of the global gag rule so that it applies to funds from all government departments and agencies, not just U.S.A.I.D. and the U.S. State Department.
Dutch minister of foreign trade and development co-operation Lilianne Ploumen responded by launching an international fund that would “give women in developing countries access to clear information, contraceptives and abortion.”
Ploumen says she has been in talks with as many as 20 countries interested in supporting the fund, which seeks to plug an estimated $600-million gap left by Trump’s order. Belgium is the only country officially on board.
“We have to make up as much as possible for this financial blow, with a broad-based fund that governments, companies and civil society organizations can donate to,” the Dutch minister said this week. “So that women can continue to make their own decisions about their own bodies.”
In an interview with CBC Radio show As It Happens, Canada’s minister for international development Marie-Claude Bibeau confirmed the country is on board.
“Yes, we will support the [Dutch] effort,” Bibeau said. “Will it be directly through the fund or indirectly, this is not clear yet. But, I assured my colleague, the Minister from the Netherlands, that we will increase our funding to sexual and reproductive health and rights. This is definitely a very important priority for our government.”
She had previously said that the Canadian government’s funding increase would extend to safe abortions, “whether legal, and post abortion care.”
She added: “I think that restricting the access to abortion does not reduce abortion. It only increases the number of unsafe abortions and it endangers the lives of women.”
In a statement to VICE News, Louis Belanger, Bibeau’s director of communications, said the minister has been in regular contact with her Dutch counterpart.
“We want to ensure that all our investments abroad to empower women and adolescent girls deliver real results,” Belanger said.
The International Planned Parenthood Foundation said they could lose $100-million in U.S. funding now that the global gag rule has been reinstated. Marie Stopes International — an NGO that provides contraception and safe abortions in developing countries — estimates that the dip in funding will lead to 6.5-million unwanted pregnancies, 2.2-million additional abortions and the death of nearly 22,000 women during Trump’s first term.