“She Decides” Conference Raises $190 Million for Groups Threatened by Trump’s Global Gag Rule
In the wake of Trump’s reinstatement of the global gag rule, nations and organizations from around the world have pledged €181 million, or approximately $190 million, to help women and girls maintain control of their reproductive choices. The global gag rule, also known as the “Mexico City rule,” prohibits U.S. federal funding for any international organization that provides abortions or acknowledges them as an option to its patients. Most of the groups that offer abortions or abortion-related counseling also provide other essential services like cancer screenings, STI tests, and contraception.
As reported in USA Today, the gag rule “is expected to cause a $600 million shortfall over the next four years.” That’s a huge amount of funding to take away from crucial services like family planning centers, women’s health clinics, and international aid organizations. For some smaller clinics, it could be catastrophic.
That’s where the “She Decides” conference and initiative come in. 57 nations ended up attending the one-day conference on March 2. Sweden, Canada, and Finland each promised €20 million ($21 million) for reproductive rights abroad, while Belgium, Denmark, Norway and the Netherlands contributed €10 million each. In addition, an anonymous U.S. donor pledged $50 million, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which recommitted to its reproductive health goals in February, provided $20 million.
Dutch Development Minister Lilianne Ploumen started the She Decides NGO two days after Trump announced the gag rule. The organization is dedicated to defending the “fundamental right [of women and girls] to decide freely and for themselves whether, when and how many children they have,” and was founded as as an explicit “response to the U.S. President’s reinstatement of the Mexico City Policy.”
Posting the conference total on Twitter, Belgian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said, “This is just the start.”
— Alexander De Croo (@alexanderdecroo) March 2, 2017
As for Ploumen, after the conference she said, “I hope that [Trump] now sees that everybody is steadfast in its support for the rights of women and girls.” With international resistance like this, he’ll have no choice.
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