POLITICS

How Countries Are Working Around Trump's 'Global Gag Rule'

Several European countries banded together to discuss practicalities reproductive rights, including safe abortions and contraception, as well as funding for affected groups.

02/03/2017 09:58 SAST | Updated 02/03/2017 10:28 SAST
Kamil Krzaczynski / Reuters

A summit hosted by Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark and Sweden on Thursday aims to support family planning charities affected by President Donald Trump's ban on US funded groups providing abortions or abortion information.

The meeting in Brussels comes amid mounting anger at Trump's decision from women's rights and health campaigners, who say it will result in restrictions on abortion that will endanger women's lives, especially in developing countries.

Government officials from about 50 countries, charities and businesses are expected to attend the conference to discuss reproductive rights, including safe abortions and contraception, as well as funding for affected groups.

"We will mobilize political and financial support and show that there is a counterweight to the worrying developments we are seeing in the US and in other parts of the world," said Isabella Lövin, Swedish Minister for International Development Cooperation and Climate, in statement.

Here are some facts about reproductive rights funding and the "global gag rule":

* The global gag rule, formally known as the Mexico City Policy, prevents charities receiving US funding from performing or telling women about legal options for abortion, even if they use separate money for abortion services, counselling or referrals.

* Incoming presidents have used the gag rule - created under US President Ronald Reagan in 1984 - to signal their positions on abortion rights. Barack Obama lifted the gag rule in 2009 when he took office while Trump signed it at a ceremony in the White House on his fourth day in office.

* The Netherlands announced in January the launch of "She Decides," a global fund to help women access abortion services, estimating that Trump's global gag rule would cause a funding shortfall of $600 million over the next four years.

* Sweden, Denmark, Belgium, Luxemburg, Finland, Canada and Cape Verde have all lent their support for the global fund.

* Globally, 21.6 million women have unsafe abortions each year, nine out of 10 of which take place in developing countries, according the World Health Organization.

* Marie Stopes International, a charity focusing on reproductive health, estimates there will be 2.1 million unsafe abortions and 21,700 maternal deaths that could have been prevented over the next four years.