World Pledges Nearly $200M to Counter Trump’s Abortion Funding Ban
A hastily organized family planning conference in Brussels raised nearly $200 million in donations on Wednesday to counter President Donald Trump’s international abortion ban.
— Belgium MFA 🇧🇪 (@BelgiumMFA) March 2, 2017
A total of 57 nations attended the one-day conference, called She Decides, pledging 181 million euros ($190 million) to help bridge the gap created by the Trump Administration. Belgium, Denmark, Norway, and the Netherlands contributed 10 million euros each.
The total was boosted by Sweden, Canada, and Finland each promising 20 million euros ($21 million). The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation also provided $20 million.
According to conference host and Belgian Deputy Premier Alexander De Croo, one anonymous U.S. donor committed $50 million to the staggering total.
— Netherlands 🇳🇱 MFA (@DutchMFA) March 2, 2017
During his first week in office, Trump reinstated the expanded global gag rule (a.k.a the Mexico City Policy), effectively banning foreign NGOs who perform, promote, or even discuss abortions from receiving U.S. foreign aid.
The policy has yo-yoed between party lines with each changing administration–Reagan enacted it in 1984, Clinton rescinded it in 1993, and Bush reinstated the order in 2001 before Obama rescinded it again in 2009. In other words, it came as no surprise to Democrats when Trump copied his Republican predecessors.
According to Reuters, the policy will cause a global funding shortfall estimated at $600 million.
“I hope that he now sees that everybody is steadfast in its support for the rights of women and girls,” said Dutch Development Minister Lilianne Ploumen, who came up with the idea for the She Decides conference.
At EU headquarters, half a dozen anti-abortion activists were protesting with a banner: “Abortion: Not with my taxes.”
However, the conference stressed that abortion was only a small part of the family planning resources offered by many of these NGOs in developing countries. Campaigners discussed how girls in these nations are being forced to have children in their early teens as a result of sexual abuse, forced marriages, or a lack of access to sex education and contraception.
The U.S funding ban “threatens to suspend a large number of projects helping to defend the health of millions of girls, even helping to save their lives,” Finnish Development Minister Kai Mykkanen said. “We respond to the situation fraught with distress by investing in the improvement of women’s and girls’ rights even more than before.”
If fact, many believe that Trump’s ban will actually result in the opposite of its desired effect. Denying funding to these programs will only increase the amount of unwanted pregnancies, Ploumen argues.
“The number of abortions will not fall, they will rise,” say Ploumen.
While the conference fell short of drumming up enough money to finance the entire $600 million, organizers said they were confident they would be able to bridge the gap soon.