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UK Pledges more than $5 Million to Counteract Effects of Global Gag Rule

February 6, 2006

The United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID) announced today that it will make an initial grant of more than $5 million to a new fund created by the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) called the Global Safe Abortion Program. The fund is aimed at increasing access to safe abortion services and will target aid to nongovernmental organizations that lost or cannot accept family planning funding from the United States because of the restrictions associated with the Mexico City global gag rule.

"We work very closely with the Americans but we have a very different view from them on abortion," International Development Minister Gareth Thomas told The Guardian newspaper in London. "We know from experience that the absence of sexual and reproductive health services results in an increase in unintended pregnancies and, inevitably, a greater number of unsafe abortions. That is why the UK will support organisations like the IPPF and Marie Stopes that are providing medical care and information to help save women’s lives," he said. "I would urge other donors to follow our lead and make a contribution to this life saving initiative that could improve the lives of thousands of poor women in the developing world."

This announcement coincided with the release of a major new report from IPPF entitled Death and Denial: Unsafe Abortion and Poverty.

Each year 19 million women and girls obtain abortions in unsafe conditions, relying on unskilled or untrained providers. Nearly 70,000 of these women and girls—almost all of them from developing countries—die and thousands of others suffer permanent injuries. All of these deaths and injuries are from known and avoidable causes.

Since 2001, President George W. Bush has enforced the global gag rule, a restriction that prohibits overseas organizations from receiving U.S. family planning assistance from if they, with their non-U.S. funds, provide abortion information, services or counseling or engage in any abortion rights advocacy.

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Abortion in the Philippines, Uganda, and Latin America

A worldwide overview of abortion