Swedish aid agency to halt funds for supporters of US anti-abortion ‘gag rule’

Sweden's international aid agency Sida said that funding agreements for sexual and reproductive issues with organisations which go along with the US presidential order could be cancelled and support phased out.

By: Reuters | Stockholm | Published:July 11, 2017 11:00 pm
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Sweden’s international aid agency is set to halt funding for sexual and reproductive health programmes of organisations which acquiesce in President Donald Trump’s ban on federal funding for foreign groups providing abortions or abortion support. Trump this year reinstated a policy that requires foreign NGOs which receive US global family planning funds to certify that they do not perform abortions or provide abortion advice as a method of family planning.

Known by critics as the “global gag” rule, Trump broadened its scope to include all global health assistance in his Jan. 23 executive order, withholding at least half a billion dollars in US funds. Sweden’s international aid agency Sida said that funding agreements for sexual and reproductive issues with organisations which go along with the US presidential order could be cancelled and support phased out.

“The American policy is at loggerheads with the Swedish position,” Sida Director-General Carin Jamtin said. “This is about women themselves having the right to decide when, and if, they want to have children and how many they want to have.”

The State Department said in April it was ending US funding for the United Nations Population Fund, the body’s agency focused on family planning and maternal and child health. Sweden has spoken out against the presidential order in the past and earlier this year became one of eight countries to join an initiative to raise millions of dollars to replace shortfalls caused by the US ban.

Sida is an aid agency that works under the directives of the Swedish government and parliament. It administers about half of Sweden’s total development aid budget while the rest is distributed through the foreign ministry.

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