British MPs have urged Indian-origin Secretary of State for International Development Priti Patel to take urgent action to support charities that provide women with information on abortion in an effort to limit the impact of one of Donald Trumps first acts as US President.
Six Labour Party politicians have written to Tory MP Patel suggesting that Britain takes similar steps to the Netherlands, which is planning to form an overseas fund after the US ruled that it would stop providing aid to international groups working in this area, the Guardian reported on Friday.
“As we are sure you are aware, the new US President Donald Trump signed an executive order blocking funding for a number of international NGOs that support women’s rights and family planning,” the MPs wrote, about what has been dubbed the Mexico city policy, or global gag rule.
“We would implore you to take urgent steps on funding and policy as the Dutch government has and as the UK government has done so previously, to mitigate the impact of this decision.”
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The group of MPs – Stephen Doughty, Stella Creasy, Gareth Thomas, Stephen Twigg, Luciana Berger and Anna Turley – praised Patel for championing the work of the Department for International Development (DfID) for women and girls in developing countries.
They said that the department has focused on access to education, health services, family planning, better nutrition and water and sanitation.
“The department has been at the global forefront in helping poor women to lead healthy and productive lives, and to increase voice, choice and control for girls and women,” they add, warning that Trump’s decision could undermine DfID’s work.
“If Britain is going to show the kind of global leadership the prime minister suggests, then we need to put our money where our mouth is and step in when others fall short” said MP Creasy, who helped organise the London Women’s March.
Doughty, a former aid adviser who sits on the development committee, argued that Trump had delivered a “sinister start” to his presidency.
“At a time when Donald Trump is advocating torture and slashing contributions to the UN – they are also gagging women’s rights organisations,” he said, urging Patel and Theresa May to try to undo some of the damage.