Belgium conference to counter Trump's anti-abortion plan

AP News
|
Posted: Feb 09, 2017 10:11 AM

BRUSSELS (AP) — Belgium is organizing an international conference next month to finance access to birth control, abortion and sex education for women in developing countries in an attempt to make up for President Donald Trump's ban on U.S. funding.

The government said Thursday that it will host the "She Decides" meeting on March 2, and so far, Belgium, the Netherlands and Denmark have already committed a combined 30 million euros ($32 million) to the policies Trump vehemently opposes.

Trump's decision last month banned U.S. funding to international groups that perform abortions or even provide information about abortions. It immediately drew sharp rebukes in Europe and became one of the flashpoints highlighting the deepening trans-Atlantic rift.

Belgium's minister for foreign trade and development, Alexander De Croo, said that the conference will "join forces and rally support for all these efforts that make sexual and reproductive health and rights a reality for millions of women and girls around the world."

Sweden is a co-organizer of the conference and Deputy Prime Minister Isabella Lovin told Swedish Public radio that the meeting was "about having the countries standing together and talk about how important it is that sufficient funding should go to sexual and reproductive health and rights."

Philanthropists and private donors will be asked to contribute at the conference, she said.

The U.S. ban on performing or even talking about abortions has been instituted by Republican administrations and rescinded by Democratic ones since 1984. Former President Barack Obama last lifted it in 2009.

Belgium, for example, already has teenage pregnancy programs in Mali and Niger, and works with U.N. organizations in Guinea for better family planning. De Croo insisted Trump would only achieve the opposite of what he wanted since it would lead to more loss of life instead of saving lives through illegal abortions and life-threatening medical procedures.

___

Jan M. Olsen contributed from Copenhagen, Denmark.