Twenty countries are already signed up to raise $600m towards a safe abortion fund for countries in the developing world.
Set up by the Dutch international development minister Lilianne Ploumen last month, the so-called She Decides initiative comes after US president Donald Trump ordered a withdrawal of $535m worth of US aid to organisations supporting abortion services overseas or providing information on the procedure.
White House press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters at a January briefing that Trump is a “pro-life president” who “wants to stand up for all Americans, including the unborn”.
The policy requires non-governmental organisations (NGOs) receiving federal funding to agree to “neither perform nor actively promote abortion as a method of family planning in other nations”.
Pro-choice campaigners have criticised Trump’s ban, otherwise known as the global gag rule, as an assault on women’s rights.
As it stands, an estimated 3m unsafe abortions for 15 to 19-year-olds are carried out annually, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
In India alone, unsafe abortions kill one woman every two hours.
Marie Stopes International, an NGO providing contraception and safe abortion services in 37 countries has predicted that Trump’s move will result in 6.5m unwanted pregnancies, 2.2m unsafe abortions and the deaths of 21,700 young mothers in the next four years.
Members of the public have already donated more than €140,000 ($149,000) to support the Dutch initiative via its website.
Others have handed over money in envelopes to the Dutch embassies in Washington and London.
Which countries have agreed to donate?
So far, the regions below have publicly backed the initiative:
1. The Netherlands has pledged $10m
2. Belgium has pledged $10m
3. Denmark has pledged $10m
4. Norway has pledged $10m
5. Canada has not yet specified the amount it plans to donate
6. Finland has not yet specified the amount it plans to donate
7. Luxembourg has not yet specified the amount it plans to donate
8. Cape Verde has not yet specified the amount it plans to donate
9. Estonia has not yet specified the amount it plans to donate
The British government has yet to declare whether it will sign up.
“It is up to them [the UK] to voice their support. They are a strong partner in all of this so I do hope they will be able to join,” said Ploumen.
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