EU silent over Trump’s funding ban for family planning abroad

Lilianne Ploumen and Alexander De Croo [Council]

The European Commission made only vague statements yesterday (26 January), suggesting it was not part of a Dutch/Belgian initiative set up to counteract Donald Trump’s ban on US federal funding for NGOs providing birth control support or abortions in developing countries.

Belgian Minister for Development Cooperation Alexander De Croo said yesterday he was joining the initiative of his Dutch counterpart, Lilianne Ploumen, aimed at launching a global fund to help women access abortion services to compensate for Trump’s ban on US federal funding for foreign groups providing abortions or abortion support for family planning abroad.

Trump is preparing executive orders that would dramatically reduce US funding of the United Nations, as well as other international organisations that do not meet certain criteria.

The order called “Auditing and Reducing US Funding of International Organisations”, will take away funding for any United Nations agency or international body that meets certain criteria, including: organisations that give full membership to the Palestinian Authority or Palestine Liberation Organisation; support abortion; and any group that circumvents sanctions on Iran or North Korea.

In response, the Netherlands was the first to declare it is to launch a global fund to help women access abortion services to compensate for Trump’s ban. Dutch officials estimate that Trump’s restrictions will cause a funding shortfall of $600 million over the next four years.

Trump on Monday (23 January) reinstated a policy that requires foreign NGOs who receive US global family planning funds to certify that they do not perform abortions or provide abortion advice as a method of family planning.

The policy was announced on Tuesday by Liliane Ploumen, minister for international development cooperation, whose Labour Party – the junior coalition partner in the government – is traditionally staunchly favor of abortion rights.

Hague said it was in contact with other countries over the initiative, and also with the European Commission.

Asked to comment, the Commission spokesperson Margaritis Schinas said however he was personally unaware of the initiative.

Spokesperson Carlos Martin Ruiz De Gordejuela said the Commission respected and supported reproductive policies, “but always in respect with the legislation in force of the host country, where we take these actions”. He said he was not commenting on national positions.

The EU has no single policy on abortion.  The two bastions of Catholicism, Poland and Ireland, have an extremely restrictive policy on abortions, and Malta is the only EU country where abortion is simply prohibited.

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