Sweden’s development agency has said it will stop giving aid to organisations which abide by the US policy not to provide or promote abortion.
The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) has announced that it will freeze funding to organisations that have agreed to the Mexico City Policy, which was expanded by Donald Trump to include all US aid streams, not just those concerned with family planning.
Defending the “right to abortion”
“This is about women’s own right to decide when, and if, they want to have children and how many children they want”, said Sida’s director general, Carin Jämtin. “Sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) are a prerequisite for being able to attend school and being active on the labour market.”
“We have to defend SRHR and the right to abortion for girls and women in poor countries and when the United States implements a policy that will hit the poorest countries and the most vulnerable groups – women and girls in need of care, Sida has to make sure that Swedish aid continues to go to those activities we have agreed on.”
Forcing organisations to choose
The measure is likely to force agencies to chose between US and Swedish funding. A Sida spokesperson said it was unclear at this stage how many organisations would be affected by the change. “We are now starting a review of which of our organisations receive support and where they stand in relation to the Mexico City Policy”, they added. “Only then will we know. The only ones we know of today that have such support and have agreed to the MCP is Save the Children.”
Sweden is also increasing its funding of organisations involved in promoting sexual heath, contraception, abortion and maternity care by a further 170 million kronor (£15.6m).
Political point scoring over lives of the poorest
Alithea Williams, SPUC’s Communications Officer, commented, saying: “What an appalling, ideologically driven decision from Sweden. It’s really shocking that they would withdraw aid from organisations that provide real help and support to those in the poorest places in the word just to make a political point about the US’s refusal to fund the killing of the unborn. What about those agencies that didn’t provide these ‘services’ in the first place? The fact that they are withdrawing funds from Save the Children, which is hardly known to be pro-life, and so presumably thinks it can carry out its activities perfectly well without promoting abortion, really highlights what an exercise in political point scoring this is. As was pointed out so powerfully on the BBC a few days ago, what women in Africa are asking for is food, water and education, not contraception and abortion.”