British MPs call on Priti Patel to oppose Trump’s ‘global gag’

LONDON: A group of Opposition Labour party MPs has written to Britain’s senior-most Indian-origin minister Priti Patel to oppose US President Donald Trump’s recent anti-abortion decision and take “urgent steps” to mitigate its impact.

The six MPs urged Patel, the Cabinet minister in charge of the UK’s Department for International Development (DfID), to take steps to counter Trump’s move to block funding for a number of international NGOs that support women’s rights and family planning, dubbed the “global gag” rule.

“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,” wrote the MPs Stephen Doughty, Stella Creasy, Gareth Thomas, Stephen Twigg, Luciana Berger and Anna Turley.

“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. Cutting funding for reproductive healthcare doesn’t end abortion, it ends safe abortions. Trump may not realise that but Britain does and should act accordingly,” they said.

While the DfID declined to comment specifically on the letter, a department source confirmed to PTI that Patel firmly believes in supporting comprehensive sexual and reproductive health and rights of women and girls.

“We will continue to show global health leadership by working with all our partners, including governments and civil society partners to deliver this,” the source said, adding that the minister had set out in 2016 that family planning will be a priority for her.