Canada, Netherlands exploring global safe abortion fund to counter Trump 

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WATCH: Trump reinstates ban on support for international abortion agencies – Jan 23, 2017

Canada is exploring the possibility of contributing to a safe abortion fund announced by the Netherlands in the wake of President Donald Trump‘s move to cut off funding to organizations that offer abortion services around the world.

Trump on Monday reinstated a policy that prevents groups that offer abortion and reproductive health care services from receiving funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development — even if they don’t use American aid money for those particular services — and bans U.S.-funded groups around the world from discussion abortion.

READ MORE: Trump adviser: Women should be ones to decide on abortion

Lilianne Ploumen, international development minister of the Netherlands, issued a statement on Wednesday condemning Trump’s decision, and outlining early plans for a new fund to plug the estimated $600 million funding gap.

“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, so that women can continue to make their own decisions about their own bodies,” the statement read.

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Ploumen spoke with her Canadian counterpart Marie-Claude Bibeau soon after the fund was announced.

Bibeau’s office says the pair have been in regular contact to discuss sexual and reproductive rights.

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“We just concluded a very successful consultation and are now in the process of reviewing Canada’s global assistance to be finalized in the coming weeks. Any additional funding will be decided post-budget”, Bibeau’s office said in a statement.

“Canada’s intention is to advance a strong women empowerment agenda. This includes an increase in investments to support advocacy work for women’s reproductive rights and for the provision of comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services, including safe abortion, where legal and post-abortion care.”

The statement reiterates that “sexual health and reproductive rights will be at the heart of Canada’s new international assistance policy.”

READ MORE: Alberta judge upholds community’s right to refuse anti-abortion ad

“Canada’s approach is to ensure that every pregnancy is wanted, every birth is safe, and every girl and woman is treated with the dignity and respect she deserves.” — statement from international development minister Marie-Claude Bibeau

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Ploumen told the Guardian that up to 20 countries have indicated interest in partnering with the Netherlands, and that she hopes to kick-start the initiative as soon as possible.

“We need a bit of time for everyone to get organized, but I don’t want it to take six months. The funding is being stopped immediately, so the sooner the organizations have the security of knowing that their programs can continue, the better,” she told the British newspaper.

Crowdfunding is being considered as one means of raising money for the ambitious plan, Ploumen said in a Facebook comment on Thursday.

Trump’s move to reinstate the policy could result in 21,700 maternal deaths, 6.5 million unintended pregnancies and 2.1 million unsafe abortions, according to Marie Stopes International, an NGO that provides contraception and safe abortion services — and is one of the organizations in Trump’s crosshairs.

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The anti-abortion rule, also known as the Mexico City Policy, has been treated as a political volleyball ever since it was first introduced by President Ronald Reagan at a United Nations conference in Mexico in 1984. It was rescinded by Democratic President Bill Clinton, reinstated by Republican George W. Bush and jettisoned once again by Barack Obama in 2009, before being signed back into order by Trump earlier this week.

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