Luxembourg supports Dutch ‘she decides’ initiative

Luxembourg’s government announced on Monday, January 30, that it will support the Dutch “she decides” initiative. The Netherlands on Saturday launched a website to attract international donations to compensate for a decision by US President Donald Trump to end funding to foreign charities that support abortion.

In light of this, Luxembourg’s Cooperation Minister Romain Schneider decided on Monday to support the Dutch initiative and to step up existing contributions to the UNFPA (United Nations Population Fund). The size of the contributions are still to be determined, according to the Ministry.

The decision by Luxembourg’s government was motivated by the fact that President Trump’s decree leaves behind a big funding gap. Trump signed an executive memorandum reinstituting a ban on U.S. funding to international groups that perform abortions or even provide information about abortions. The ban has been instituted by U.S. Republican administrations and rescinded by Democratic ones since 1984. President Barack Obama last lifted it in 2009.

Marchers hold signs during the Women's March on January 21, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. The "Mexico City Policy" has been instituted by every Republican President since 1984.
Marchers hold signs during the Women’s March on January 21, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. The “Mexico City Policy” has been instituted by every Republican President since 1984.
Photo: AFP

Trump’s decision to reinstate the so-called “Mexico City Policy” has brought questions of women’s rights into the spotlight again. The decree could leave multilateral institutions and NGOs struggling to get the necessary funds to sustain their activities in the areas of sexual health and birth control. The ‘she decides’-initiative is aiming to create a global fund for family planning programmes in developing countries. The ‘she decides’-website states: “Women and girls should have the right to make their own choices. They should have access to adequate health care”.

“It is time that she decides”

The Netherlands announced it was kick-starting the fund with 10 million euros.

Trump’s decree to ban such funding, signed on Monday, January 23, was one of the first acts of his presidency. The day after that decision the Netherlands called for an international fund to support health centres offering abortion services in developing countries.

On its new website the Dutch foreign ministry said it had received “thousands of messages from over 150 countries in 23 languages”. The vast majority of the responses have been positive, “with many indicating a desire to donate to a fund,” the statement added. The new internet site, “shedecides.eu”, offers information on the fund and how to make donations in euros or dollars.

According to the Dutch ministry, Trump’s decision leaves a 600 million euro annual funding gap “that can only be filled by a strong international response from governments, aid organisations, businesses and individuals.”

Demonstrators gather at Civic Center Park in Denver, Colorado, during the Women's March on January 21, 2017.
Demonstrators gather at Civic Center Park in Denver, Colorado, during the Women’s March on January 21, 2017.
Photo: AFP

The statement continued: “We cannot let women and girls down. They should have the right to decide if they want to have children, when they want to have children, and with whom they want to have children.”

“We obviously need far more money. Judging by the signals we have received so far, I trust we will come a long way towards safeguarding essential provisions not just for women, but for society at large,” said Lilianne Ploumen, the Dutch minister for foreign trade and development cooperation.

According to the Marie Stopes reproductive health charity, cited by Ploumen, the loss of US funding will result in 6.5 million unwanted pregnancies, 2.2 million unsafe abortions, and 21,700 unnecessary deaths of mothers over four years.

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