After Trump ban, Brussels pro-choice conference raises 181 million euros

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[March 03, 2017] By Waverly Colville

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - A Brussels conference to finance global family planning initiatives raised 181 million euros ($190.34 million) after a U.S. halt to such programs left NGOs worldwide with a large funding gap.

Shortly after taking office, U.S. President Donald Trump reinstated a policy requiring foreign organizations receiving U.S. funds to certify that they do not perform abortions or provide abortion advice as a method of family planning.

This funding stop will cause a global shortfall estimated at $600 million.

About 50 countries, organizations and foundations, spearheaded by the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark and Sweden, participated in Thursday's conference in Brussels entitled "She Decides" to fund groups who have been impacted.

"This is not an event or movement against something or someone. I think that the Trump administration's decision is the wrong decision," Belgian minister Alexander De Croo said.

"These 50 countries are going to work together to make sure that the impact of that decision on the field is going to be minimal," he added.

While the conference did not match the entire $600 million shortfall, organizers said they were confident the gap would be bridged as soon as possible.

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At the conference, campaigners from developing countries talked about girls being forced to have children in their early teens as a result of sexual abuse, forced marriages or a lack of access to sex education and contraception.

"Every country, every person makes their own decisions. The good thing about this world is that it is a free world and it should stay that way," said Dutch minister Lilianne Ploumen, who started the "She Decides" campaign.

(editing by Robert-Jan Bartunek and Toby Davis)

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