Development minister Lilianne Ploumen has expressed disappointment at US President Donald Trump’s decision to eliminate all funding for organisations that help women in developing countries with family planning if their range of services includes abortion. Mr Trump’s presidential memorandum (the ‘Global Gag Rule’) was announced last week in Washington.
‘This decision has far-reaching consequences,’ said the minister. ‘Above all for the women it affects, who should be able to decide for themselves if they want a child, but also for their husbands and children and for society as a whole. Banning abortion does not reduce the number of abortions. What it leads to is dangerous backroom procedures and higher maternal mortality.’
Marie Stopes International, one of the affected organisations, estimates that the cut in their funding will result in 6.5 million additional unwanted pregnancies, 2.2 million additional abortions (many of them unsafe) and the needless death of 21,700 young mothers over the next four years.
The Netherlands will resolutely defend good healthcare for women, Ms Ploumen said, including abortion rights. ‘Working with other countries and organisations, we’ve achieved a lot in recent years. Last year alone, Dutch support to women’s organisations is estimated to have helped prevent over 6 million unwanted pregnancies and half a million abortions. The US decision threatens to undo these achievements. We must not let this happen.’ To prevent this, the minister is taking the initiative to launch an international fund to give women in developing countries access to clear information, contraceptives and abortion.
‘We have to make up as much as possible for this financial blow, with a broad-based fund that governments, companies and civil society organisations can donate to,’ said Ms Ploumen. ‘So that women can continue to make their own decisions about their own bodies.’