|February 10th, 2017.
Population Institute Canada was pleased and encouraged by Ottawa’s announced intention to increase funding for sexual and reproductive health rights globally in response to the reinstatement by President Trump of the “gag rule” denying aid to organizations that perform or provide advice about abortion. This move will result in a US $600 million overall reduction of support for family planning organizations.
The Canadian government may now support these same organizations through a safe-abortion fund announced by the Netherlands shortly after Mr. Trump signed the executive order in late January. This order exceeds those of previous Republican presidents in restricting health assistance from all US departments and agencies, and could cut up to US $10 billion from organizations fighting diseases from AIDS to malaria.
According to Marie Stopes, a major UK global family planning organization, the loss of American funding could result in an additional 6.5 million unintended pregnancies and 2.1 million unsafe abortions over the next four years in the developing world. This would lead to an additional 21,700 maternal deaths unless the eliminated U.S. funds can somehow be replaced.
The Globe and Mail, in reporting on the Canadian government’s decision to increase global funding for reproductive rights, cited research that found that in remote parts of Africa, many women would be trapped in a lifetime of “near-ceaseless pregnancy and child-rearing, with as many as 10 or 12 children in a family, if foreign-funded groups did not provide contraception and education about family planning.”
The article also cited a 2011 study by researchers at Stanford University, who found that an earlier version of the gag rule under former President George W. Bush increased the abortion rate by about 40 per cent in 20 African countries as a direct result of the forced cutback in the activities of groups providing contraception.
In light of the impending loss of support to international aid agencies which provide reproductive health services on the ground in developing countries, Canadians may want to both encourage Ottawa to follow through on its stated intention to fill the gap, and to look for other ways to support reproductive health services in the developing world.
PIC urges Canadians to contact their local MP and the office of the Minister of International Development to encourage the government to declare its firm intention to stand by its initial announcement. They might also consider donating to aid organizations that are providing reproductive services and education to those in the developing world who need it most. These include the following:
Marie Stopes International: https://mariestopes.org/
International Planned Parenthood Federation: http://www.ippf.org/
Population Action International: http://pai.org/#
As an additional measure, PIC hopes you will consider donating to Population Institute Canada to help us as we campaign and educate on the issue of unsustainable population growth, and will sign PIC’s petition encouraging the Canadian government to make non-coercive family planning a significant integral part of its international development assistance.
Every action taken can make a vital difference.
Contact: Madeline Weld, PhD.
President, Population Institute Canada