Reproductive health officials say they received over $300,000 in aid from the US in 2016 to support their work. But unless other countries, like the Netherlands, step in, millions of women will be without essential family planning services.
Two days after his inauguration as US president, Donald Trump signed an executive order reversing a policy which gave federal aid money to international groups performing or providing information on abortion.
The president reinstated the “Mexico City policy,” expanding it to prohibit federal aid to any foreign organisations dealing with abortion or information about the procedure, including those which might also have anti-Zika or HIV programmes. More than $600 million in aid to over 30 developing countries has been halted as a result.
Uganda, which has a teen pregnancy rate of 24 percent, was expecting additional funding this year to help young women with methods of family planning and help them with post-abortion care.
Officials say the move can impact millions of vulnerable women living in Uganda.
The Dutch step up
The Netherlands is launching a global fund to help women access abortion services to compensate for Trump’s swing in policy.
The Dutch government has held preliminary discussions on the initiative with other European Union members who have responded positively, a foreign ministry spokesperson said on January 25. Governments outside the EU, companies and social institutions will also be approached to participate.
The policy was announced on January 24 by Liliane Ploumen, minister for international development cooperation. Ploumen is from the Labour Party—the junior coalition partner in the government—which is traditionally staunchly in favour of abortion rights.
The Netherlands’s laws on reproduction and reproductive health are among the world’s most liberal.
Foreign ministry spokesman Herman van Gelderen said he was confident relations with the new US administration would not be damaged by the measure.
“Where decisions are taken that are bad for women in developing countries we should help those women,” he said. “It’s not about the politics, it’s about those women.”