On Tuesday the Netherlands announced that it will launch its own international fund to support access to birth control and abortion for women in developing countries, one day after U.S. President Trump signed an executive order ending funding to any group which offers women information about or access to the two vital aspects of reproductive health care.
“Banning abortions does not result in fewer abortions,” said Dutch Trade and Development Minister Lilianne Ploumen in announcing the plan. “It leads to more irresponsible practices in back rooms and more maternal deaths. We must not let this happen.”
On Monday, the U.S. president reinstated what is officially known as the Mexico City Policy, which denies all U.S. aid money to organizations which offer any information, including referrals, about birth control or abortion services for women, even if those services are funded by other groups.
The so-called “abortion gag rule”, which was first implemented by Ronald Reagan in 1984 and rescinded by President Obama in 2008, will affect the lives of tens of thousands of women throughout the Global South.
The World Health Organisation estimates that 22 million women – the overwhelming majority of which live in the Global South – are forced to undergo unsafe abortions every year. The WHO estimates that 50,000 women die each year because they do not have access to safe abortion services.
Ploumen is proposing the “broad based fund,” one which could be supported by other governments, as well as businesses and nongovernmental organizations, “so that women can remain in control of their own bodies."
Speaking of Trump’s executive order Ploumen added, “This has far-reaching consequences. First of all, for all those women who have to make, if they want to have a child, a choice, but also for their husbands and children and society as a whole."