Forget Trump! Other Democracies Will Finance A ‘Safe Abortion’ Fund

The Netherlands and up to 20 other countries are organizing to counter Donald Trump and the brutal Global Gag Rule on abortion that he reinstated. These countries are putting together a ‘safe abortion’ fund for family planning agencies around the world that suddenly find themselves with empty coffers.

Dutch international development minister, Lilianne Ploumen, told The Guardian:

We’re in talks with 15 to 20 countries and we’ve also spoken to foundations. 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.

Trump’s executive order is aimed at gutting any non-governmental program, anywhere, of its ability to provide healthcare services if it so much as mentions the word ‘abortion.’

Not all of the countries that may participate in filling the gap have been identified, but one of them is Canada. Canada’s International Development Minister, Marie-Claude Bibeau, has been speaking regularly with Ploumen. Earlier this week, she released this statement:

Canada’s intention is to advance a strong women empowerment agenda. This will include an increase in investments to support advocacy work for women’s reproductive rights and for the provision of comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services, including safe abortion (in jurisdictions where it is legal) and post-abortion care.

Obviously, not everyone is afraid of Mr. Trump and his threats, nor are they inhibited by his lack of compassion for women. While the Global Gag Rule has been reinstated by other Republican presidents, Trump is the only one to target all non-governmental healthcare services, not just family planning agencies.

The Globe and Mail laid out just how stark the picture would be if the limitations on reproductive healthcare were to stand as Trump intended:

Many women in rural Africa were not even aware of modern contraceptives until they learned about them from groups such as the UN Population Fund (UNFPA).

Thus, these women would be condemned to an endless cycle of childbirth and child-rearing in abject poverty. According to just one family planning organization, Marie Stopes International (MSI):

We estimate that without alternative funding, the loss of our services during Trump’s first term, between 2017 and 2020, could result in: 6.5 million unintended pregnancies, 2.2 million abortions, 2.1 million unsafe abortions and 21,700 maternal deaths.

Most abortions would never happen if women had adequate education about contraception, but that distinction escapes the far right and far-right-pretender Donald Trump. Nor does the image of thousands of women dying from lack of access to safe abortion seem to have any impact.

The gap that needs to be filled is enormous — $600 million dollars — but the Netherlands is pushing forward. Ploumen said:

You should never compromise on your aims from the outset. Six hundred million dollars is a very ambitious target but we’re committed to it.

Thank goodness someone is committed to the welfare of women because it’s certainly no longer the United States. Ploumen is organizing as swiftly as she can, noting that time is of the essence. Money from the U.S. is being halted immediately. Until the new fund is established, family planning groups have no idea how long they can continue providing any services, not just information on safe abortion.

The government of the Netherlands is non-plussed by going up against Donald Trump. As Ploumen pointed out:

It’s important to stand your ground. We respect the decisions of a democratically elected president, but we’re democratically elected too and we can make different decisions.

This is also about millions of women and girls who often have no voice or live in countries where democracy is less deeply rooted, and when they speak up they need our support.

As Trump continues to roar like a tiger, other countries may soon show him that he’s a pussycat with no teeth and no claws. Other democratic nations, like Canada and the Netherlands, haven’t forgotten their values or that women’s right to control what happens to their bodies, including safe abortion, is a basic human right.

Feature photo, Community Health Teaching by Lindseymaya, usage under  Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported.

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Deborah Montesano

Deborah Montesano is a longtime political activist and blogger. She learned to fight against impossible odds by living for years in Arizona, but recently relocated to the more progressive-friendly city of Portland, Oregon. Find her on Facebook at facebook.com/thepoliticali/ or on Twitter @thepoliticali_1.

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