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Why the Global Gag Rule Really Matters And what you need to know about it

A few weeks ago, the Trump administration reinstated the Global Gag Rule. The Global Gag Rule (GGR), also known as the Mexico City policy, was first implemented by the Reagan administration in 1984. The GGR prohibits the distribution of U.S. foreign aid to any NGO’s that provide abortion services of any kind. The Trump administration not only reinstated the GGR, they expanded it. The expanded GGR will affect far more funding and applies to all global health funding. It’s not a surprise that the Trump administration reinstated the controversial policy, the surprise is the expanded restrictions of the policy.

Trump’s other republican predecessors reinstated the same policy when they came into office. It was natural for Trump to reinstate it, but expanding it sent reproductive rights organizations into panic mode. It’s an understatement to say that this policy is restrictive and unfair. Marie Stopes International (MSI) estimates that without alternative funding between 2017 and 2020, Trump’s Global Gag Rule could result in 6.5 million unintended pregnancies, 2.2 million abortions, 2.1 million unsafe abortions, and 21,700 maternal deaths. Although, the GGR does not prohibit abortions in the case of rape, incest, or life endangerment, it severely restricts services for adequate care. The GGR has prevented women from accessing contraception and safe abortions leading to an increase in unwanted pregnancies and abortions. The GGR also increases the risk of HIV and ceases the prevision of family planning services in many developing countries. The policy is harmful and disruptive towards the progression of reproductive rights for women in developing countries. At the end of the day, it’s poor women in developing countries that suffer most from these policies.

Trump’s Global Gag Rule could result in 6.5 million unintended pregnancies, 2.2 million abortions, 2.1 million unsafe abortions, and 21,700 maternal deaths.

Moreover, the total funding impacted is well over $9.5 billion for global health. Organizations that received funding before the GGR was reinstated are no longer allowed to use their own funding for abortion services either. Other programs that have nothing to do with abortions services are now also affected by this policy. Why do a few men decide what a woman can do with her body? Unfortunately, that’s a question we not only deal with internationally, but here at home too. While many other developed countries, including the U.K., Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Finland, have moved towards funding access to safe abortions, the U.S. stands out as one that has sought to restrict access for women.

Do people really think the key to preventing abortions is by making them more difficult to get? Perhaps, they think the abstinence-only approach is sustainable? Regardless, it’s disheartening to see women consistently left out of the conversation around their reproductive rights. Whether you back the GGR on religious grounds or political ones, the right to choose belongs to the individual alone. Many of the organizations suffering due to the GGR work on more than just abortion issues. The GGR policy has known to impact nearly seven million women who are treated each year for complications from trying to end a pregnancy unsafely — using herbs or sticks or turpentine or bleach, or punches to the stomach, or in unsterile procedures carried out by incompetent practitioners. Denying funding can have dangerous effects on other global health risks and policies, both domestically and internationally. If we get another democrat in the executive office in the next four or eight years, he/she will rescind the GGR as they usually do. However, how much damage can this administration do in the next four to eight years and how long will it take to fix it? Can we as a society wait that long? When will our elected officials realize that the GGR hurts more people than it protects?

…This rule hurts women of color and low socioeconomic status the most.

Consequently, this rule hurts women of color and low socioeconomic status the most. Even the biggest reproductive health advocates can’t undo the damage this policy will have on women all over the world. Personally, I think each time the GGR gets reinstated, we take two steps backwards as a society. We can do better for the women of the world. We should do better for the women of the world.

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