Clips from the She Decides meeting in Brussels this month.


Governments, organisations and philanthropists pledged over $250 million to the international abortion industry at the ‘She Decides’ conference in Brussels on March 3rd.

The conference, organised by Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark and Sweden, is part of an international initiative launched by the Netherlands to raise funds to counter Trump’s reinstatement of the Mexico City Policy (MCP). The MCP, also known as the “Global Gag Rule” by its opponents, prohibits U.S. foreign aid money from going to international NGOs that perform or promote abortions as a method of family planning. 

Last month, Labor Senator Lisa Singh called the MCP “an attack on women everywhere” which “demeans women”. I have disputed misguided claims like Ms Singh’s elsewhere, and explained why in reality, it is the international abortion industry that is harming women.

While Australia’s Ambassador for Women and Girls, Sharman Stone, attended and supported the conference, some commentators – including Ms Singh – are upset that the Australian government has not committed any funding. 



But what about the $9.5 million in Australian taxpayer dollars that Bishop pledged to the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) via its SPRINT program (Sexual and Reproductive Health Program in Crisis and Post Crisis Situations) last month? At the time, several commentators hailed the funding as Australia’s response to the MCP, given that IPPF is one of the organisations which stands to lose the most from its reinstatement.

If the Australian government has in fact declined to join other nations in propping up the international abortion industry in the wake of the MCP, this is a very good thing for women, both here and abroad. However, its decision to commit a further $9.5 million to IPPF does women no favours. Such a move is gravely harmful to women in developing countries and a missed opportunity to provide them with real support.

First and foremost, IPPF is an organisation that has been mired in scandal for years. Its U.S. affiliate has been implicated in everything from trafficking aborted baby parts behind women’s backs, to infanticide, ignoring child sexual abuse, facilitating sex trafficking and sex selective abortionsmanipulating women to have abortions, and running clinics where women are at risk of infection and disease from unsanitary conditions, have been rendered infertilemaimed and died from botched abortions.

At the international level, IPPF has deep roots in the population control movement, including alleged involvement in forced and sex selective abortions in developing countries, like China and India.

So why would we as a nation continue to pour millions of dollars into an organisation that has displayed such a flagrant disregard for the rights and welfare of women?

Why too are we giving $9.5 million to “strengthen sexual and reproductive health, rights and support during humanitarian crises” in the Indo-Pacific region, when surely what women need most when faced with disaster is access to emergency food, shelter and health care for themselves and their families?

Johanna Wicks, head of IPPF’s Australian office, said in an interview on the subject that, “What we find is that in emergencies it is natural to turn to the person that you love and to seek comfort. What we find is that if women are using contraception they can no longer access it, it might have disappeared in the flood or cyclone, and we see a lot of women who are extremely keen to access these services.”

The idea that impoverished women who have just experienced something as devastating as a flood, fire or earthquake would be preoccupied with having sex and preventing or terminating pregnancy is, to use Senator Singh’s words “demeaning”. What is more likely in times of crisis is that such women are sexually exploited and tragically lose one or more of their children in the disaster. Abortion only piles trauma upon trauma for these women.

Moreover, the women in the developing world whom IPPF so nobly claims to be helping, often do not want what they see as an aggressive and colonial imposition of abortion and contraception on their countries, at odds with their cultural beliefs and practices.

The Foreign Minister’s media release notes that in addition to “family planning services”, IPPF’s SPRINT program provides safer birthing environments, HIV protection and treatment, protection against sexual violence and assistance to rape survivors in crisis-affected places.

However, if its U.S. affiliate is anything to go by, any services IPPF claims to provide other than abortion and contraception are either very much secondary or non-existent. For example, claims that Planned Parenthood provides mammograms and prenatal care in the U.S. turned out to be a myth.

Instead of pouring millions of taxpayer dollars into a politicised and hyper-sexualised international aid program that women in disaster zones don’t need, what about supporting our own women here in Australia?

We have increasing numbers of underage girls having sex, women being subject to sexual violence, a dire need to do more for women suffering from miscarriage and stillbirth, and a colossal gap in funding for crisis pregnancy centres – often the only port of call for women struggling with an unplanned pregnancy, and before or after an abortion.

There are many ways of providing real aid and support to women both in Australia and overseas, but funding the international abortion industry is certainly not one of them.

Rachael Wong is the Director of Research, Policy and Advocacy at Women’s Forum Australia. Republished with permission.

Rachael Wong is the CEO of Women's Forum Australia and an Adjunct Lecturer in the School of Law at the University of Notre Dame Australia. She has a particular interest in the crossover between law, ethics,...