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Why I'm Not Sleeping: The Gag On The Global Gag Rule

29/01/2017 21:53 | Updated 30 January 2017
Arman Zhenikeyev - professional photographer from Kazakhstan via Getty Images

I'm not sleeping until I've done my best to communicate the fact that a petition asking for the UK government to help fund international NGOs threatened with funding cuts if they offer abortion services had fewer than 20 signatures when I came across it after two days of existing. Such a policy affects the rest of the world and so is deserving of a global response. The UK has not done its part.

Donald Trump was inaugurated as President of the United States of America on Friday 20 January, 2017. By Monday 23 January, 2017 he had already issued multiple executive orders. One of them was the global gag rule.

Much has happened since, of an equally shocking nature. But by playing by the rules of the short news cycle of the 21st Century we are losing our ability to create positive change.

The global gag rule means that international NGOs who offer abortion services (or indeed simply provide information about abortions) will be cut off from US funding. These services are invaluable to the 21.6million who experience unsafe abortions every single year (according to WHO). And already these services aren't enough because 47,000 women died in 2008 alone from complications arising from unsafe abortions.

As a rich man in a rich company, unsafe abortions are something Trump battles with routinely and knows the absolute moral agony individuals go through when making these decision, and physical danger they subject themselves to. Others - who must clearly know far less - have decried this move. The Guardian reported that the International Planned Parenthood Federation will not abide by the rule. As a consequence, it will lose up to $100m.

As I write, a .gov petition calling for Donald Trump to be banned from visiting the UK on a State visit is going viral. It has signatures that number in the hundreds of thousands. Whilst I applaud this gesture of defiance, blocking Trump from visiting is going to do very little.

In today's political climate, those who care about causes must aim for small attainable objectives that build on one each other. In this case, people's energies are better directed to taking meaningful steps to combatting the actual physical harm and death this man will cause around the world. Of course, many people who dislike Trump, object to abortion. I entirely understand the validity of this position. My point is that it is neither here nor there. In withdrawing this funding, death rates amongst woman who will have abortions will increase.

It is for this reason that I am not sleeping and am emailing, messaging, and tweeting this link to a petition calling for the UK to set up an international fund to support the black hole left by Trump's policies: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/178369.

Too often we get caught up in following a craze. Follow this one so that the UK too can stand alongside the Netherlands - who have already pledged to try and work with countries around the world to block the harm - in protecting those most affected but least able to defend themselves.

Please follow this link, sign (if you are a UK national) and share (whatever your nationality); https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/178369

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