Countries are coming together to support women’s reproductive health, in the wake of President Donald Trump’s ban on United States funding for global nonprofits that provide information about abortion.
On Thursday, 57 countries as well as private donors gathered at a conference in Brussels, Belgium, and raised more than $190 million to support women’s health groups that will lose U.S. funding, reports the Associated Press.
In January, after Trump reinstated the Mexico City policy, also known as the global gag rule, Dutch Development Minister Lilianne Ploumen responded by launching She Decides, an international abortion fund.
As part of She Decides, Thursday’s conference sought to raise money from governments and individual donors. Canada, Sweden and Finland committed around $20 million each, according to the AP. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation donated $20 million, and an anonymous U.S. donor gave $50 million.
“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,” Ploumen said in a release. “We will accept nothing less and we will continue to fight to make this right a reality all over the world.”
The global gag rule could mean a loss of an estimated $600 million in U.S. funding, according to NPR ― far more than the amount raised so far by She Decides.
Trump’s reinstatement of the global gag rule ― which, since its start under President Reagan, has been revoked under each Democratic president and reinstated by each Republican ― means that many women’s health groups in the developing world will lose critical funding.
While the 1973 Helms Amendment already prohibits U.S. funds from paying for abortion procedures, the global gag rule takes it one step further by cutting U.S. funding to groups that offer information to women about abortion, or pay for abortions with non-U.S. funds.
The loss in funds, as a result of the global gag rule’s reinstatement, will hamper nonprofits’ ability not only to provide women with advice on abortion, but also to provide other health services, from access to contraceptives to HIV prevention.
Marie Stopes International, a major global women’s health group affected by the global gag rule, estimates that the funding cut could lead to 6.5 million unintended pregnancies, 2.1 million unsafe abortions and 21,700 deaths in the next four years.
Doctors Without Borders, which provides contraceptive and safe abortion care worldwide ― but will not be directly affected by the global gag rule ― said in a release on Thursday that Trump’s re-instatement of the policy “endangers the lives of women and could encourage unsafe abortions.”
“Time and again, young women are brought to [our] emergency rooms bleeding to death,” Catrin Schulte-Hillen, the charity’s maternal health group leader, said in a release, “because they tried to terminate their pregnancy in an unsafe way.”