STOCKHOLM Eight countries have joined an initiative to raise millions of dollars to replace shortfalls caused by President Donald Trump's ban on U.S.-funded groups around the world providing information on abortion, Sweden's deputy prime minister said.
Isabella Lovin told Reuters a conference would be held on March 2 in Brussels to kick-start the funding initiative to help non-governmental organizations whose family planning projects could be affected.
The Netherlands announced in January the launch of a global fund to help women access abortion services, saying Trump's "global gag rule" would cause a funding shortfall of $600 million over the next four years.
Sweden, Denmark, Belgium, Luxemburg, Finland, Canada and Cape Verde have all lent their support, Lovin said.
"(The gag order) could be so dangerous for so many women," said Lovin who posed for a photograph this month with seven other female officials signing an environmental bill, in what was seen a response to a photograph of Trump signing the gag order in the White House with five male advisors.
The global gag rule, which affects U.S. non-governmental organizations working abroad, is one that incoming presidents have used to signal their positions on abortion rights. It was created under U.S. President Ronald Reagan in 1984.
Trump signed it at a ceremony in the White House on his fourth day in office. Barack Obama lifted the gag rule in 2009 when he took office.
"If women don't have control over their bodies and their own fate it can have very serious consequences for global goals of gender rights and global poverty eradication," Lovin said.
(Reporting by Alistair Scrutton; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)