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The right to abortion and LGBTQ issues will become major concerns with the new President of the United States

Published 11/14/2016 | Updated 11/14/2016

The choice of Donald Trump as the new US president is a cause for concern for the Swedish Association for Sexual Education (RFSU), and for its sister organisations, whose work revolves around people’s rights over their bodies and their sexuality. Both abortion and LGBTQ rights are in jeopardy now, knowing the stance Donald Trump took during his election campaign.

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The choice of Donald Trump may have major consequences for people’s rights over their bodies, not least those of women and members of the LGBT community. It is hard to determine exactly what Donald Trump hopes to achieve, but we are looking with great concern at how abortion and LGBTQ rights could come under attack, both in the United States and internationally.

The abortion issue is controversial in the United States and, during the election campaign, Donald Trump threatened to penalise people who choose to terminate their pregnancy. On top of that, he selected a die-hard conservative, Mike Pence, for the post of Vice-President. We know that Pence is actively fighting against abortion and LGBTQ rights.

"A while ago, I visited abortion clinics in midtown Manhattan in New York," says Kristina Ljungros, RFSU President. "There were fifteen people outside one abortion clinic trying to persuade people entering to change their minds about aborting. Planned Parenthood, our sister organisation in the US, has volunteers outside their clinics to help people enter a clinic, so that they can evade the verbal abuse and taunts. Working at an abortion clinic in the United States is not without danger, with staff being reluctant to appear in photographs for fear of assault. The persecution of abortion clinic staff by opponents of abortion is not an uncommon occurrence. In addition, a year ago, both staff and patients were shot dead at one of the Planned Parenthoods clinics."

Abortion is legal in the US but, in practice, there are ways to curtail the right to an abortion. Almost 300 legislative bills have been adopted at state level with the single purpose of obstructing abortion care. For example, some states want to introduce a compulsory waiting period between the examination and the procedure, which will cause problems for women who live a long way away from their nearest clinic. The US Supreme Court plays a major role in restricting abortion rights, and Trump will now be able to appoint a judge to a post that has been vacant since the beginning of the year.

"We will support our Planned Parenthood sister organisations in the fight for human rights," continues Kristina Ljungros.

Since Ronald Reagan, Republican presidents have used the so-called Global Gag Rule, which means the suspension by the US of all financial aid to organisations that provide information about, or assistance with, obtaining an abortion. This even happens in the states where abortion is legal.

"Many organisations working with HIV and contraception in developing countries have been forced to shut down their operations," says Kristina Ljungros. "This means millions of women being left without access to the expertise and services they need. In the past, this policy has led to countless women dying. So, although we don’t know exactly how Trump will shape his policy, one thing is certain: it will not mean more people getting the right to make decisions about their own bodies."

Press contact

Urban Rybrink

urban.rybrink@rfsu.se 0761-60 33 07

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