Dear Mr. Trump – can we let her decide please?

Shane O'Halloran Advance

3

An (alternative) Q&A session with President Donald Trump.

DSW: Mr. President, thank you for taking the time to talk with us today. Let’s jump right into it: Have you heard about the ‘She Decides’ conference that is being launched today (March 2) in Brussels by the Belgian government?

T: Yes, I overheard my aides talking about it…maybe you can remind me what it’s about again?

DSW: Certainly! The She Decides initiative and the conference in Brussels will be attended by representatives of governments, international organisations, private foundations, and non-governmental organizations from around 50 countries. It is been organized by the development ministries of Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands and Sweden. The main thrust of the conference is about governments from around the world uniting together to close the funding gap – caused by your administration – in reinstating the ‘Global Gag Rule’. This policy has created funding hole of 600 million USD that had been previously used to save the lives of families living in countries of poverty.

T: Now hang on a second! That’s a false statement. My administration is all about families. It’s abortions we want to stop.

DSW: Ensuring women and girls have unequivocal access to the all of their sexual and reproductive health and rights is essential for saving lives and ensuring prosperous communities. It is true that abortion is part of these rights, but family planning encompasses a lot more than this. Every year millions of women living in poverty die needlessly during childbirth, and every day over 20,000 girls under the age of 18 give birth. Giving birth while in adolescence can be extremely risky and complications during pregnancy is one of the leading causes of death for girls aged 15 to 19 years. By enacting the Global Gag Rule, you are compounding this already tragic situation, as this money was used by international NGOs in a variety of ways to ensure that girls had access to contraceptives and information, health screenings, treatment for sexually transmitted diseases, and comprehensive sexuality education.

T: But it will stop abortions, right?

DSW: No, actually it won’t. If anything denying a person’s right to access contraceptives and family planning services could lead to an increase in unintended pregnancies, which, according to the United Nations Foundation, will increase abortion rates – especially unsafe abortions as proper clinical services are denied. This contributes to death rates, and overall poverty levels.

T: Alternative facts!

DSW: No, they are not. And here are some more researched and authenticated facts you should be aware of:

  • More than 220 million (about 225 million) women in low- and middle-income countries lack access to modern contraception. Of 877 million women living in countries of extreme poverty, 225 million have no access to contraception. One out of every four! (Guttmacher)
  • 99 percent of all maternal deaths occur in countries of poverty (WHO)
  • There are 74 million unintended pregnancies each year in countries of poverty (Guttmacher)
  • One million young women aged between 15 and 19 in countries of poverty give birth to a child every year (Guttmacher)
  • 49 percent of these pregnancies are unintended (Guttmacher)
  • Every day, approximately 830 women die from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth (WHO)

Simply put, by cutting this funding you are exasperating an already critical situation. You will also find that if women can plan their families, they are more likely to space their pregnancies and have healthier babies. Giving a women the freedom to choose also has much wider benefits too. With proper knowledge and supply of modern contraception, a girl can avoid becoming pregnant if they don’t want to. This means they can finish school, get a job, and enjoy all the same benefits of life that the rest of the world takes for granted. This is not only good for her but can lead to positive benefits for her family, community, and her country.

T: Sorry, but you guys can continue doing that work. I need to concentrate on making America Great!

DSW: That’s fine but one way you could do that would be to act as an example for the rest of the world – cutting off access to life-saving services and information is definitely not the way to do it. Reverse the Global Gag Rule, increase spending amounts, and turn the tide on the maternal death rate. This will not only be good for America, but good for the world.

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My life, my decision. Empowered for the future! 

Sylvia is 14 years old and lives in Uganda. This short film tracks her hopes and dreams and explores what a difference having access to sexual and reproductive health and rights information, services and supplies can make in helping her reach her true potential. This movie was created by Deutsche Stiftung Weltbevölkerung (DSW).