Earlier this week, President Donald Trump signed an executive order barring US taxpayer dollars from funding abortion in other countries.
Following the move, Lilianne Ploumen, the Netherlands’ Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, suggested the creation of an international abortion fund to fill the void left by the United States.
“We have to make up as much as possible for this financial blow,” said Ploumen, “with a broad-based fund that governments, companies and civil society organizations can donate to, so that women can continue to make their own decisions about their own bodies.” Of course, Ploumen doesn’t just mean decisions about their own bodies. She also means the decision to end the unique life of a different, preborn body, but that doesn’t quite have the same ring to it.
In addition to arguing against the United States’ withdrawal from funding abortion organizations overseas, Ploumen makes a very broad argument against pro-life legislation in general. “Banning abortion does not reduce the number of abortions,” she said in a statement.
This argument has been debunked by Live Action News and others, but it’s worth revisiting. Studies that have been used to argue against the effectiveness of pro-life legislation have, in many cases, proven to be faulty and unreliable at best for several reasons. One of those reasons is that comparing countries’ abortion rates based on legislation, without addressing other factors such as poverty and cultural differences, fails to adequately prove much at all. For example, comparing abortion rates in a third-world, poverty-stricken African nation with abortion rates in the United States would clearly have to factor in more than just the law. Further, there are multiple examples of nations in which pro-life laws have preceded a marked reduction in abortion rates.
As Kristi Burton Brown reported for Live Action News…
… [It’s] demonstrably false that countries that ban abortion do not see a decline in the abortion rates. Take Poland – a developed nation – for example. This nation saw approximately 130,000 abortions per year before the 1980s, when abortion was first made illegal. That number dropped incredibly, down to 635 a year, on average, from 1993-2004…
Ireland could also be discussed here. Official numbers show that just over 4,400 women traveled to Great Britain to get abortions, since abortion is generally illegal in Ireland (some exceptional circumstances lift the ban). But the number of abortions performed in Ireland itself is hardly worth mentioning, it’s so small. Of course, Irish abortion supporters cry out that illegal abortions are still happening, and certainly they are. Yet Ireland has held the world’s record for lowest maternal deaths while also banning abortions. Clearly, abortion can be limited and women can be kept safe at the same time – at least in developing nations.
A 2012 Patheos article makes a similar point through comparing abortion rates in various American states – a far more relevant comparison than the aforementioned third-world nation vs United States example:
There are several more state comparisons listed in the article, proving that pro-life legislation and low abortion rates do frequently coexist, despite what Ploumen and other abortion advocates would have us believe.
Another interesting tidbit here is that, while Ploumen slams the United States as unethical for refusing to fund the killing of preborn babies in other countries, the Netherlands continues to serve as an absolutely terrible example of life-related ethics. Regardless of one’s views on assisted suicide/euthanasia, it would be very difficult to argue that the Netherlands’ policies on these matters have not resulted in extremely unethical killings.
Take, for example, the 1,040 people who were euthanized without their consent in the Netherlands in 1990. Or the killing of individuals suffering from mental disorders, including substance use disorders. (The American Psychiatric Association publicly opposes such killings.) Or the killing of a sexual abuse victim who also struggled with post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and anorexia.
Ploumen’s comments demonstrate a profound misunderstanding of abortion and abortion funding, and the Netherlands’ hypocrisy on human rights and ethics is quite disturbing, to say the least.