A U.S. anti-abortion group has expressed outrage over the announcement that Britain will pledge more than $5 million -- about 3 million pounds -- to the Global Safe Abortion Programme, which helps women in developing nations receive access to safe abortions.
Joe Scheidler, the national director of the U.S. Pro-Life Action League, said the funding wouldn't solve the problems of women in developing nations.
"Our great natural resource is people. This is the type of thing that's outrageous to us. … Every abortion is unsafe. It's an invasion," he said. "Pregnancy is not a disease."
The British government said the money would help take the place of funding lost because of the Global Gag Rule, a law created during President Reagan's administration and revived under the current Bush administration. The law bans U.S. funding to nongovernmental organizations that promote or discuss abortion services -- even in countries where abortion is legal.
"We know from experience that the absence of sexual and reproductive health services results in an increase in unintended pregnancies and, inevitably, a greater number of unsafe abortions," said U.K. International Development Minister Gareth Thomas in a released statement. "That is why the U.K. will support organizations like the IPPF [International Planned Parenthood Federation] that are providing medical care and information to help save women's lives. … I would urge other donors to follow our lead and make a contribution to this life-saving initiative that could improve the lives of thousands of poor women in the developing world."
According to the World Health Organization, about 19 million women undergo unsafe abortions worldwide each year, most of them taking place in Africa, Asia and Latin America. About 68,000 women die annually from related complications.
WHO defines unsafe abortion as a "procedure for terminating an unintended pregnancy either by persons lacking the necessary skills or in an environment lacking the minimal medical standards, or both."
Scheidler said that aid should be directed to preventing the need for abortion in the first place, and helping families stay together.