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Governments step up for reproductive rights

Friday 03 March 2017 Kylie Harrison Safe abortion and post abortion care, Policy and advocacy

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Governments and philanthropists pledged €181 million for family planning at the She Decides conference following the US administration’s decision to re-impose the Mexico City Policy.

More than 45 governments attended the urgently convened conference yesterday (2nd March) in Brussels to pledge commitments, sending a strong message that the fundamental right of women and girls to make decisions about their own lives must be respected.

Pledges included $20 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, $50m from an anonymous U.S. donor and two that will directly fund Marie Stopes International’s work, including $10 million from the founder of the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation Sir Chris Hohn and $4m from the Canadian government.

Marie Stopes International’s chief executive Simon Cooke said:

"We are incredibly grateful for the generosity and leadership of all the governments involved in She Decides and would like to thank them for stepping up and helping to protect vital services for the world’s most vulnerable women and girls. We are particularly humbled by the pledges made by Sir Chris Hohn of the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation who personally donated $10 million to support our work, and Canada whose $20m commitment included $4m for Marie Stopes International.

"The lives and health of millions of women hangs in the balance as a result of the Mexico City Policy but this conference and the commitments made gives us hope that their rights, including access to safe and legal abortion, will remain high on the international agenda.

"When women are empowered to make informed decisions about their bodies they can transform not only their own lives but unlock untold opportunities for their families, communities and economies."

Speaking at the conference, Cooke outlined the impact of the order on our work, with 1.5 million fewer women in the developing world expected to be able to access contraception from a trained Marie Stopes International provider each year. Leading to an estimated 1.6 million unintended pregnancies, 540,000 abortions (520,000 of them unsafe), and 5,400 maternal deaths.

He added: "Refusal to acknowledge abortion does not mean it’s not there. At Marie Stopes International we refuse to look away."

Key pledges:

Anonymous American donor $50m
Belgium €10m
Canada $20m, including $4m for Marie Stopes International
CIFF €20m
CIFF founder Sir Chris Hohn personally donates $10 million to Marie Stopes International.
Denmark €10m
Gates Foundation – $20m over the next four years: the first in a series of commitments over 2017
Finland €20m
Netherlands €10m
Norway $10m
Sweden €21m

Total – €181m

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The Global Gag Rule means millions in the developing world could lose access to contraception

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