While Donald Trump has been busy pushing through the Republican Party’s Obamacare repeal bill this week, which, if passed by Congress, will defund Planned Parenthood and hit low-income women especially hard, avowed feminist and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pledged this week to spend $650 million over the next three years on women’s reproductive health services and sex education around the globe.
At an event in Ottawa honoring International Women’s Day, Trudeau said “Like men, women should be able to choose when they want to start a family, how big their family should be, and who they want to start that family with.”
The funding is a continuation and extension of money pledged under Canada’s former conservative Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, for maternal and child health. But while Harper chose to exclude abortions from funding allocation, because it was too divisive an issue, Trudeau’s pledge will go toward providing women with safe and legal abortions and post-abortion care, as well as targeting gender-based violence, female genital mutilation and forced marriage.
“When women have equal power and equal weight and equal leadership influence, the kinds of decisions are better,” he said.
The policy comes after Donald Trump’s first move as president reinstated the Reagan-era “global gag rule.” The policy, a political football that has been revived under every Republican government and then repealed by every Democratic government since Reagan, bars U.S. foreign aid from going toward any organization that offers abortion-related services.
However, since the Helms Amendment already blocks the U.S. from funding abortion services abroad, clinics that do offer abortions are already using their own money to provide the service. Any U.S. funding they are currently in receipt of will be going towards the provision of other vital services, including contraception delivery and maternal health care. Removing this funding will, critics have warned, have devastating consequences for women’s healthcare provision worldwide and undermines other global health priorities such as HIV/AIDS prevention.
Trudeau’s policy follows a series of similar pledges from countries including Sweden, Denmark, Belgium, Luxembourg, Finland, Canada, and Cape Verde, which have all committed to bridging the funding gap created by Trump’s gag rule.
Read the full story at The Huffington Post.