Posted on 19 Apr 2017

    Aussies Don’t Want To Follow Trump By Banning Charities That Offer Abortion Services

    Sixty-seven percent of Australians would be concerned if the government introduced a "global gag rule" that stopped or reduced family planning aid.

    Anti-abortion activists across the globe were invigorated when United States president Donald Trump announced in January that he would reinstate a "global gag rule" banning any foreign organisation accepting US global health assistance from using the money, even from individual donors, to talk to women about abortion, let alone provide one.

    Joshua Roberts / Reuters

    The Australian Christian Lobby urged prime minister Malcolm Turnbull to follow Trump's lead and reinstate a ban on the use of foreign aid to terminate pregnancies in other countries. The ban, introduced by former prime minister John Howard, was abolished by his successor Kevin Rudd.

    The Turnbull government announced in February it would commit $9.5 million in funding to respond to sexual health needs during humanitarian disasters in the Asia Pacific region. One of the services funded is "safe abortion care".

    The ACL said that there would be a "gendercide" in these countries where sex-selective abortion would skew "sex ratios" and lead to "prostitution, sex trafficking and increased death in child birth" and, in turn, "social unrest, instability in countries and crime".

    However, a poll by Essential Research has found 67% of Australians would be "concerned" (31%) or "very concerned" (36%) if "Australia also introduced this rule and stopped aid to groups that provide family planning and sexual and
    reproductive health services in Pacific Island countries".

    Ilana Panich-linsman / Reuters

    Women in the Pacific region die at up to 10 times the rate of Australian women from cervical cancer and at 34 times the rate of Australians when giving birth.

    Chris Turner, executive officer and regional director at reproductive health clinic Marie Stopes International Australia, said Trump's policy would have the "exact opposite effect" to the one that is intended.

    "By blocking funding to the world’s largest providers of modern contraception, it will reduce women’s ability to prevent unplanned pregnancy," Turner told BuzzFeed News.

    "There are 225 million women around the world with an unmet desire to use family planning, and 0.7% of Australian aid funding went to family planning in 2014/15. We would like to see a national conversation about increasing rather than reducing that already modest allocation."

    Family Planning NSW chief executive, associate professor Ann Brassil, said the research showed Australians did not want a "similar hit to services in developing countries like the Pacific Islands".

    “The reintroduction of the US global gag rule by the Trump administration is promoted as being an anti-abortion policy, but it affects up to $9.5 billion worth of funding for family planning, contraception, HIV, maternal health, cervical cancer screening and vaccinations."

    Gina Rushton is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Sydney.

    Contact Gina Rushton at gina.rushton@buzzfeed.com.

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