The Netherlands' Response to the 'Global Gag Rule'

January 25th 2017

Michelle Betters

President Donald Trump signed an executive order Monday that reinstated the Mexico City policy, also known as the “global gag rule,” which prohibits global organizations funded by the United States from supporting abortion services in any way.

In response, Dutch government officials are reportedly starting an international fund that would sustain these groups.

Lilianne Ploumen, the Dutch minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, explained in a statement to CNN that these limitations not only affect women and girls, “who should be able to decide for themselves if they want a child,” but also society as a whole. An estimated 47,000 women die from unsafe abortion procedures every year, according to a 2008 study by the World Health Organization.

“Banning abortion does not reduce the number of abortions,” she added.

The global gag rule was first put in place by the Reagan administration in 1984 and was intended to keep non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from promoting abortion as a method of family planning. Before this policy was established, NGOs could still receive money from the United States Agency for International Development while using non-U.S. funds to provide safe abortion services.

Since 1984, this rule has been repealed and reinstated multiple times, with former President Bill Clinton rescinding it in 1993, then former President George W. Bush restoring it in 2001 and, then, in 2009, former President Barack Obama overruled the order.

By supporting already-existing programs, The Netherlands' international fund would fill the funding gap created by Trump's order. While Ploumen told The Guardian that it would be difficult to come up with the $600 million of aid that might be lost, government officials from around the world have already voiced their support.

Ploumen explained, “We respect the decisions of a democratically elected president, but we’re democratically elected, too, and we can make different decisions.”

Minister Lilianne Ploumen

The Republican party is also working to limit abortion access in the United States.

On Tuesday, the House of Representatives passed HR 7, a bill that would prohibit government funding from providing abortion services to low-income women with Medicaid and federal employees. But this bill would also restrict any private insurance coverage sold through the Affordable Care Act exchanges.

The Trump administration’s anti-abortion efforts coincide with a promise the president made to pro-life leaders on the campaign trail. In September, Trump promised to de-fund Planned Parenthood, make late-term abortions illegal, and “protect taxpayers from having to pay for abortions.”