In a way that only Donald Trump can, he pulled yet another punch to women’s reproductive health, only this time it was on a global scale. In one of his first actions as President, Donald Trump has reinstated the Mexico City Policy or ‘global gag rule’. The global gag rule cuts off international health organizations from U.S. federal funding if they include or even mention abortion in their women and family planning options.
The reinstatement isn’t necessarily surprising or new-- since the Reagan administration the global gag rule has had an on-again-off-again relationship with each incoming presidency: Reagan wrote the rule in 1984 but when Bill Clinton came into office he reversed it. Eight years later George W. Bush reinstated it only for Barack Obama to drop it again once he took office. And now we’ve come full circle to our Cheeto haired leader once again reinstating it. Although it comes as no surprise since Trump seems hellbent on ruling women’s uterus’ with an iron fist, it is incredibly dangerous to women globally.
The U.S. provides about $600 million a year to international programs for reproductive health and family planning. Under the Helms Amendment that money is not to be used for international abortions but instead on contraception, family planning, HIV screenings, and treatment, etc. Even though federal funds are not being used to finance international abortions, Trump has chosen to reinstate the rule anyway, which could limit women’s access to clinics and contraception as a result.
According to the Center for Health and Gender Equity (CHANGE), USAID provides nearly half of all global funding for women’s contraception. Cutting off organizations that offer abortion-- even as a referral-- could lead to staff reductions in clinics and even the closing of some clinics, all over the world. Not only would women be left without a safe abortion alternative, but they could also be left without access to contraception or HIV screenings.
Proper family planning was at the forefront of decreasing the maternal mortality rate globally but the global gag rule could bring those numbers back up, forcing many women to seek unsafe abortions (unsafe abortions account for 13% of maternal deaths globally, according to the World Health Organization).
Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, a New Hampshire Democrat and the only woman on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has spoken out against the reinstatement saying: “I will continue to stand up to President Trump and Republican leadership in Congress who are intent on rolling back women’s access to reproductive healthcare, and will soon be introducing bipartisan legislation aimed to repeal the Global Gag Rule for good.”
Top photo via Wikipedia
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