One of the first things that Donald Trump has done in office is introduce new barriers for women seeking an abortion. Specifically, Trump has reintroduced the ‘Mexico City policy’, an approach to US developmental aid that requires NGOs to not preform abortions in order to qualify for federal funds. This policy was first introduced by President Ronald Reagan in 1984 but had been ignored by Democratic administrations of Clinton and Obama. Trump’s decision will make women seeking abortions around the world more difficult, but there are some who are willing to stand up.
In a statement made to the BBC, Lilianne Ploumen, the Dutch Minister for Foreign Trade and Developmental Cooperation, has said that The Netherlands are planing to establish a “well-financed fund” to assist women “remain in control of their own bodies”. The fund will be financed by the Dutch government, but will also be set up in a way to allow foreign businesses, governments, and charities to donate. In citing Trump’s decision, Ploumen argued that the fund would be used to protect the women who would be negatively affected by this change. Ploumen also told the BBC that Trump’s decision is more far-reaching than just making abortion more difficult:
“This executive order of President Trump makes it impossible for organisations not only to deliver the service of safe abortions, but also to give sexuality education, to promote contraceptives and make sure that people have access to contraceptives, so the impact is huge on the lives of women and children”.
The Minister was keen to point out that the Dutch government cannot unilaterally support all the NGOs that Trump will be, in effect, cutting the funding of. The proposal from the Dutch government is that it will act as the vanguard organisation in the fight against Trump’s attacks on reproductive rights. If this policy change is to be guarded against, there needs to be a true spirit of internationalism to support women’s bodily integrity.
Plouman has also claimed that since making this policy announcement, organisations from around the world and individuals have been in contact to express their support. Obviously I do not, and cannot, know if this is true but I sincerely hope that people across the world have expressed their solidarity in this way.
The announcement from the Dutch government needs to be matched by coordinated action from NGOs and governments in order to genuinely support the women who will have their reproductive rights impaired. We all need to lobby our respective governments so that this fund gets off the ground as without support women’s health is at risk, but we need to go further. If a private company wants to donate money to this fund, even if the reason is for pure publicity, so be it. These barriers to abortion services for women around the world will put their lives at risk, and drive many into having children that they do not wish to have. All donations should be welcome to this fund, even if they come from amoral profit-driven organisations.
Most of us non-Americans saw the election of Donald Trump as a dark day for that country, but the initial response was one of frustration. My personal frustration was that there was nothing I could do protest Trump directly or undermine his actions, but as recent developments have shown, I was wrong. People in multiple countries are protesting Trump’s horrific policies and vile rhetoric, and this initiative by the Dutch government is another such example.
If people outside American can establish a fighting fund to undermine Trump’s impact on women’s rights, that is something that we should pursue. Our world is so interconnected that we can act to subvert Trump’s actions. As Plouman said, the Dutch government cannot bare the entire cost of these abortion restrictions, and assisting wherever possible is an excellent way of helping women retain their bodily integrity whilst simultaneously undermining the fascist in the White House.