The Netherlands is seeking to set up an overseas abortion fund to counteract Donald Trump’s recent ban against funding international groups which give women information about terminations.
Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Lilianne Ploumen for the Dutch government has announced she intends to establish an international fund which would finance projects relating to access for birth control, abortion and women’s education, throughout developing countries.
Ms Ploumen announced the plan in reaction to an extensive memorandum signed by Mr Trump to restrict access to information on abortion for women who are in receipt of aid from international development groups.
Known as the Mexico City Policy or the ’global gag’ rule, the ban was one of Mr Trump’s first actions upon entering office last week. It prohibits US funding for any international aid groups which give women information about abortion, even if they do not perform the procedures.
Ms Ploumen said the fund could be supported by governments, businesses and social organisations concerned by the US President’s actions in order to “compensate this financial setback as much as possible”.
She told colleagues: “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. Banning abortion does not lead to fewer abortions. It leads to more irresponsible practices in back rooms and more maternal deaths.”
She also quoted figures from Marie Stopes International, one group which would lose funding under the initiative, suggesting up to 14 women a day could die as a result of the gag.
The Mexico City Policy is a traditional tool used by Republican administrations and is frequently put in place under GOP presidents, before being rescinded by Democratic ones. It was last put in place under George W Bush and then subsequently repealed by Barack Obama when he entered office.
The policy has been criticised by many women’s rights and healthcare groups who fear the lives of women and girls may be put at risk by the policy, either due to continuing risky pregnancies or attempting to perform terminations dangerously. However, many Republican politicians support the policy for religious reasons.