President Donald Trump's reintroduction of the Global Gag Rule means that much of America's maternal health assistance is frozen - something that will affect those living in poverty the most. It risks significantly increasing the number of unwanted pregnancies and leading to the deaths of thousands of girls and women around the world. Now Sweden and the outside world must cover for the reduced aid. Therefore, 14 organizations in CONCORD Sweden's gender equality working group call on the government and the Riksdag to add new money to the spring budget.
Next week, Sweden and some 50 other countries will meet in Brussels to discuss, among other things, the financing of the #Shedecides initiative, and how the countries together will counteract the negative effects of President Trump's reintroduction of Global Gag Rules, the so-called gag rule.
Sweden has so far shown strong leadership and been clear in its criticism of the reintroduction of the gag rule. In addition, Sweden is co-organizing a conference on 2 March together with Denmark, the Netherlands and Belgium to mobilize political and financial support. Sweden's voice and political stance on this issue is important internationally, and the initiative to coordinate donors to cover the loss of US aid is welcome. Most important of all, however, is Sweden's willingness to contribute more money to sexual and reproductive health and rights, SRHR - something that requires the Riksdag to support an increased investment in SRHR in the spring budget.
The gag rule - a setback to maternal health
The global work against maternal mortality has been successful. Maternal mortality has almost halved between 1990 and 2015. The United States has previously accounted for about 30 percent of global maternal health assistance, and half of U.S. aid has gone to contraception and contraceptive counseling. The gagging rule will thus mean a significant reduction in this assistance. It is not possible to say exactly how large the financial loss of US aid will be as the restrictions are still being worked out, but in 2016, US health aid amounted to $ 9,5 billion.
President Trump's expanded version of the gag rule, or Mexico City policy as it is formally called, means that the United States stops all health care for foreign organizations that do not explicitly distance themselves from working with abortion rights. Since few organizations only work with abortion, the policy will affect a large number of organizations. It includes actors working with HIV and AIDS, the rights of LGBTQI people, nutrition, malaria, tuberculosis, and for increased hygiene in healthcare facilities - initiatives that are crucial for everyone's health, young and old. These organizations will now be forced to choose between accepting US terms and seeing their financial support disappear.
Marie Stopes International (MSI), an international organization that has been working on family planning for over 40 years, estimates that the gag rule over the next three years will result in:
* 6,5 million more unwanted pregnancies
* 4,3 million more abortions, of which 2,1 million are unsafe abortions
* 21 more cases of maternal mortality
Sweden's decision is crucial in life
SRHR is a prerequisite for being able to achieve an equal and equal society. The right to reproductive care, safe births and safe abortions with clean water, sanitation and hygiene is about saving lives. This, together with contraception and sex and cohabitation education, are also necessary areas for girls and women to be able to plan their lives, get an education, work under decent conditions, support themselves and contribute to a safer and more sustainable world. In conflict regions and fragile states, it is also necessary to be able to offer complete sexual and reproductive health care to survivors of sexual and gender-based violence.
The right of all women and girls to sexual and reproductive health is a human right that should not be questioned in 2017. These rights are absolutely necessary to lift women, children, families and entire communities out of poverty and thus a crucial factor in achieving sustainable development goals. which all the countries of the world have undertaken to achieve by 2030. Therefore, Sweden's and the outside world's strong political stance against the gag rule is vital. The next step is to turn the counterforce into new financial resources in the coming spring budget.
Maria Andersson, Secretary General of RFSU
Gabi Björsson, Secretary General, Africa Groups
Cecilia Chatterjee-Martinsen, Secretary General of WaterAid Sweden
Mariann Eriksson, Secretary General of Plan Sweden
Bo Forsberg, Secretary General of Diakonia
Birgitta Göranson-Iliste, Acting Operations Manager, Swallows India Bangladesh
Kristina Henschen, Chancellor of the Exchequer Union to Union
Luis Lineo, Chairman MEN
Erik Lysén, international director of the Church of Sweden
Anneli Rogeman, CEO We Effect
Lotta Sjöström Becker, Secretary General of the Christian Peace Movement
Annika Skogar, chairwoman of the International Women's Association for Peace and Freedom, IKFF
Annika Schabbauer, Chief of Staff Operation 1325
Lisa Sjöblom, Secretary General of Forum Syd
(Members of CONCORD Sweden's gender equality working group)