Without them, we can expect thousands of women to die
Lilianne Ploumen (Image via Flickr/Partij van de Arbeid)
Following Trump’s passage of an executive order that will pull U.S. funding from international healthcare providers that perform or advocate abortions, Dutch government officials decided to take action. In defiance of Trump’s male-dominated maneuvers to deprive women of health care, the Netherlands will establish a global abortion fund, CNN Politics reports.
In a statement, Dutch minister for foreign trade and development cooperation Lilianne Ploumen said Trump’s decision “has far-reaching consequences above all for the women it affects, who should be able to decide for themselves if they want a child, but also for their husbands and children and for society as a whole.” She added, “Banning abortion does not reduce the number of abortions.” Instead, pulling financial support for quality services will inevitably lead to “dangerous backroom procedures and higher maternal mortality.”
Health providers and practitioners know this statement to be true, though Trump has so far displayed an unwillingness to surround himself with knowledgeable people. In a tweet, Senator Kamala Harris pointed out the maddening irony of a group of white men effectively deciding what women can do with their bodies.
As infuriating as it is, Trump’s decision to reinstate the order, otherwise known as the global gag rule, shouldn’t surprise us, as it has historically fallen along party lines. Ronald Reagan’s administration originally put the measure in place—only to have it repealed by Bill Clinton, reinstated by George W. Bush, and repealed once again by Barack Obama. Obama’s administration attempted to compromise by prohibiting any direct government funding of abortion services, though his version of the order allowed for contraception funding and postabortion care.
Officials in the Netherlands will pick up the slack by providing contraception, factual information, and abortion services to women in developing countries. While the move is heroic on their part, it’s wildly irresponsible for a country as large as the United States to dump the burden on the shoulders of smaller countries. With a population of 16.8 million, the Netherlands has less than half the population of California alone. It’s shameful for Trump to force other countries to pay the price for his destructive whims, but women around the world will ultimately bear the burden and Trump’s decision will have fatal consequences.
According to Marie Stopes International, a nongovernmental health care provider, Trump’s order will do nothing but further marginalize women and cause irreparable damage. The group’s vice president, Marjorie Newman-Williams, told CNN,
“All the medical evidence, as well as everything we know from our daily interactions with women, is unequivocal: If you take safe abortion services out of the reproductive health care package, it exposes women to risk … Attempts to stop abortion through restrictive laws—or by withholding family planning aid—will never work, because they do not eliminate women's need for abortion.”
In fact, losing vital services during Trump’s four years in office could result in 6.5 million unintended pregnancies, 2.2 million abortions, 2.1 million unsafe abortions, and 21,700 maternal deaths, according to Marie Stopes International. When will American officials accept that depriving women of basic rights degrades the entire human race? We must all follow the Netherlands’ lead and take it upon ourselves to care for one another. For the women in dire need of health care, waiting is not an option.