President Donald Trump has reinstated the Mexico City Policy – an abortion-related requirement prohibiting foreign non-governmental organizations that receive U.S. funding from using their resources on abortion or abortion advocacy. But other countries, led by The Netherlands, have moved swiftly to try minimize the impact of the Trump’s order.
The policy – also known as the global gag rule was established by President Ronald Reagan in 1984. It provides that to receive U.S. funds, organizations must desist from using money from any source (including non-U.S. funds) for abortion or abortion advocacy. President Trump’s provisions go beyond previous ones by Republican Presidents, which barred organizations from receiving U.S. government global-family-planning funding. His gag rules are extended to cover all other U.S. global-health funding. The memorandum signed by President Trump also extends the requirements beyond non-governmental organizations to include “global health assistance furnished by all departments or agencies.” In the last few weeks since this new order was signed, global health advocates have worried that the gag rule will harm global health, reversing gains made against many diseases, including HIV, tuberculosis and malaria. More importantly, the new order would affect the provision of reproductive health services for millions of women around the world.
It is why WACI Health is excited to hear plans by the Netherlands to establish an international fund to mitigate the effects of President Trump’s gag rule on women’s reproductive health services. Launching the She Decides initiative, Lilianne Ploumen, the Dutch minister for foreign trade and development cooperation, said new funding will be used “to make sure that women and girls all over the world have access to family planning services.” It is reported that seven other countries, including Sweden, Denmark, Belgium, Luxemburg, Finland, Canada and Cape Verde have offered their support.
In her message in support of women’s reproductive health rights, Marie-Claude Bibeau, Canada’s Minister of International Development and La Francophonie, said that Canada will make a significant contribution in sexual and reproductive health rights and advocacy for women’s rights, contribute to sex education for boys and girls, to the provision of contraceptives, to family planning, to legal safe abortions and to maternal and newborn health.
We commend the Netherlands for coming up with this great initiative. We commend the other countries that are standing up for women in these very uncertain times. The world has made remarkable progress in the fight against infectious diseases and in promoting and protecting reproductive health rights of women in the last two decades. We cannot stop now.