Netherlands moves on abortion funding after Trump reinstates 'gag rule'

Story highlights

  • Dutch official: "Banning abortion does not reduce the number of abortions"
  • Many charities fear effect Trump's order will have on women's health around world

(CNN)The Dutch government says it wants to help set up an international abortion fund to help families across the world after US President Donald Trump reinstated the so-called Mexico City policy.

On Monday, Trump signed an executive order, widely known as the "global gag rule," which bars international nongovernmental organizations that perform or promote abortions from receiving US government funding.

'Far-reaching consequences'

    Trump's move has infuriated many charities and politicians across the globe, with Dutch official Lilianne Ploumen saying the lack of financial support will lead to "dangerous backroom procedures and higher maternal mortality."
    "This decision has far-reaching consequences 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," Ploumen, the Dutch minister for foreign trade and development cooperation, said in a statement.
    "Banning abortion does not reduce the number of abortions."
    Trump signed the policy that the Reagan administration initially put in place. President Bill Clinton later rescinded the gag rule, but President George W. Bush then reinstated it. President Barack Obama once again revoked the rule.
    During the Obama years, US law banned direct funding for abortion services, but nongovernmental organizations were allowed to receive funding for other programs, including those related to contraception access and post-abortion care.
    Dutch official Lilianne Ploumen is taking aim at the US "global gag rule."
    According to the Dutch government, the new fund would allow women in developing nations to gain access to contraceptives, clear information 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 organizations can donate to," Ploumen said.
    "So that women can continue to make their own decisions about their own bodies."

    'Catastrophic'

    Trump's order is "catastrophic," according to Marie Stopes International, an NGO that provides contraception and abortion services.
    Women in developing countries will end up "paying the price," said Marjorie Newman-Williams, the group's vice president.
    "All the medical evidence, as well as everything we know from our daily interactions with women, is unequivocal: If you take safe abortion services out of the reproductive health care package, it exposes women to risk," Newman-Williams said.
    Marie Stopes International said the loss of its services during Trump's four years in office could cause 6.5 million unintended pregnancies, 2.2 million abortions, 2.1 million unsafe abortions and 21,700 maternal deaths.
    The organization said it also would be prevented from reaching 1.5 million women with contraception every year.
    "Attempts to stop abortion through restrictive laws -- or by withholding family planning aid -- will never work, because they do not eliminate women's need for abortion," Newman-Williams said.
    "This policy only exacerbates the already significant challenge of ensuring that people in the developing world who want to time and space their children can obtain the contraception they need to do so."
    Marie Stopes International said it gave 2,843 general and gynecological checkups and performed 586 contraceptive implant insertions in the wake of the 2015 earthquake in Nepal -- all supported by US funding.