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20 November 2017

Today Monday 20 November 2017, this year's UCL Lancet lecture welcomes Mrs Lilianne Ploumen, Dutch MP and former Development Cooperation Minister to speak on sexual and reproductive health and President Trump's reinstatement of the global gag rule. 

Liliane Ploumen

The UCL Lancet lecture is an annual global health event open to the public and free-of charge. The first UCL Lancet lecture took place in 2005 and past speakers have included Christiana Figueres, former Head of UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Head of UNAIDS Michel Sidibé, and Indian author Arundhati Roy.

While Development Cooperation Minister for the Netherlands, Lilianne Ploumen decided to respond to the reinstatement of the Mexico City Policy (aka global gag rule), which stops US development funding to any organisation that "promotes abortion". Promote in this context does not mean providing abortion services; merely informing women about the availability of legal abortion services is considered "promotion". The result of this policy is to create a $600m shortfall in global health funding for sexual and reproductive health services including basic family planning and HIV care.

Mrs Ploumen came up with the idea of creating an international fund for sexual and reproductive health to make up for the shortfall in US funding and she then persuaded other countries and organisations to support her idea. The "She Decides" initiative was launched in Brussels in March 2017.