Out of concern that President Trump will cut government funding to abortion providers in foreign countries, representatives of more than 45 governments met at an international conference in Brussels that was organized by Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands, and Sweden. At the conference dubbed “She Decides,” at least $190 million was raised to fill in the gap caused by an expected $600 million shortfall once the United States ceases to provide funding.
 
Sweden and Finland each kicked in $21 million to the cause.
 
Known as the Mexico Rule, the measure was adopted during the Reagan administration and prohibits federal funds to organization that “perform or actively promote abortion as a method of family planning in other nations.." This includes Planned Parenthood, which during the Obama administration was subsidized at about $500 million per year. When the White House was occupied by Democrats, the Mexico Rule was flouted. But on January 23, Trump reinstated the policy of prohibiting the use of funds for abortion outside of the country.
 
Belgian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said women and girls could be pushed “into the dark Ages,” by the “purely ideological decision of one country,” i.e. the United States. “We will start with making something great again. To be clear, any abortion that takes place is one too many But if it has to take place then I think it should be available and it should be available in a safe way,"  he said. In a tweet, De Croo wrote: “Pleased to announce 181 million euro was pledged during #shedecides in Brussels. This is only the start. We'll continue this fight together!”
 
Dutch foreign trade and development minister Lilianne Ploumen said, "It is a very powerful signal to the rest of the world that the fundamental right of women and girls to decide over their own lives must be respected."
 
Trump wants to cut proposed funding to the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development by at least 37 percent, thus requiring significant restructuring and staffing cuts at the two institutions. The State Department and USAID budget request for this fiscal year is for about $50 billion and part of a wider $58.8 billion “international affairs budget.” The overall federal budget is more than $3 trillion. In Washington, it is thought that cuts to the two diplomatic agencies would offset the $54 billion proposed for the Department of Defense. 
 
Trump, while not encountering resistance from Republicans as to federal spending on abortion, has encountered resistance from Republicans to cuts proposed for State and AID. For example, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), "It's dead on arrival. It's not going to happen. It would be a disaster." Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell, when asked whether the Senate would approve such cuts, said, ‘Probably not.”
 


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Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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