Justin Trudeau Pledges $650 million as Global Abortion Funding
Justin Trudeau, Canada’s prime minister, has pledged to spend $650 million on international sexual and reproductive health programmes. This decision came after Donald Trump reinstated the “global gag rule” earlier in January. Canada’s funding will be spread over a period of three years.
The “global gag rule”, also known as the Mexico City Policy, stipulates that US federal funds cannot be given to foreign NGOs that perform or promote abortions, or provide women with information about any kind of abortion services, as well as these organisations to lobby for the legalisation of abortion in any given country.
Justin Trudeau said that these funds will focus on sexual education, invest in family planning and contraceptives, as well as to improve reproductive health. This sum of money doubles Canada’s current budget that it allocates for global reproductive health programmes.
Former Canadian prime minister, Stephen Harper, explicitly refused to include funding for abortion services in his own maternal and child health program. But this new policy put forth by Justin Trudeau represents a huge break by comparison.
The Executive Director of Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights, Sandeep Prasad, welcomed this decision but mentioned that there is still a lot to be done here.
“Ending the previous government’s refusal to fund abortion services abroad was a strong first step, but to truly move forward on this in a sustained and systematic way, we need a Canadian global policy on sexual and reproductive rights,” he said.
As expected, Canada’s Conservative Party is against the idea. Interim party leader Rona Ambrose said:
“We’ve always taken the position that this is not just divisive, but illegal, in a lot of the countries that we give aid to,” Ms Ambrose said. “Our position was always, let’s stick to things that we know will bring people together and everyone can support, which was the maternal and child health initiative.”
But this step, taken by Canada’s prime minister, is only able to fill in the gap to a certain degree. The United States Agency for International Development is the largest donor to these kinds of programmes all around the world. In 2016 alone, it spent $600 million.
But with the new cuts, the International abortion provider, Marie Stopes, said in a statement that president Trump’s decisions will lead to 2.7 million unplanned pregnancies and 21,700 maternal deaths.