The Trump administration has taken two decisions which will devastate family planning services in some of the world’s poorest countries. Population Matters is supporting a range of international efforts to defend them. Please join the campaign.
In January, the so-called ‘global gag rule’ was reinstated by President Trump. The rule, which had been rescinded by President Obama when he entered office, means that the US government will not give any aid to organisations which provide abortion services or even provide clients with information about them. The US is currently the world’s largest funder of family planning services through overseas aid and about $600 million of US aid annually is directly affected.
The decision has a wider impact: the prohibition extends beyond family planning to other health services, such as child and maternal health programmes and HIV prevention, compounding the effect of cuts to the overall US aid budget.
Then, in March the administration announced it would stop all support for the United Nations Population Fund – UNFPA – which provides and coordinates family planning in the world’s poorest countries.
The international response
Very shortly after the ban was introduced, the Dutch government initiated the She Decides project, intended to generate funds to replace those likely to be withdrawn and lobby other governments to provide additional funding. A number of governments have pledged money to the initiative.
In July 2017, a global family planning summit took place in London, in which a range of governments and other large donors pledged further support for family planning. The UK government, previously the second largest donor nation for family planning after the US, committed an additional £45m over several years.
The US cuts have already had an impact and in November, Human Rights Watch warned it would lead to “increased unsafe abortions and maternal deaths”. Evidence shows that where abortion is banned, illegal abortion simply becomes more prevalent. According to the Guttmacher Institute, nearly 7 million women in developing countries were treated for complications from unsafe abortion in 2012. More than 22,000 women die every year because of unsafe abortion, almost all of them in developing countries.
Population Matters is one of more than 230 organisations worldwide to support a statement backing the She Decides initiative. We have also joined more than 400 development, social justice, women’s rights and family planning organisations in signing a joint statement condemning the reinstatement of the gag rule.
Please join the campaign to defend family planning: