What are the ‘foreseeable harms’ of the Trump global gag rule? A commentary looks at the evidence.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Under President Trump’s expanded Global Gag Rule, U.S. government agencies have been directed to apply an unprecedented global anti-abortion policy that will require foreign NGOs to choose between receiving U.S. funding and providing comprehensive sexual and reproductive health care.

A new, detailed examination of the gag rule’s likely impact by Ipas Senior Policy Advisor Patty Skuster and George Washington University Associate Professor Jeffrey B. Bingenheimer also points toward even more extensive and damaging effects in some of the world’s poorest countries.

Writing in a forthcoming commentary in the journal Family Planning Studies, Skuster and Bingenheimer say that impacts of the expanded gag rule are likely to include:

  • Increased maternal and child deaths and illnesses
  • Reduced economic growth and social development in affected countries
  • Other wide-ranging effects, including the possibility of “a lost opportunity to bring the HIV epidemics of Southern and Eastern Africa under control.”

Noting that the gag rule has been the subject of discussion in the popular media as well as academic journals, the authors say their commentary is the first to identify the global commitments that will be strained by the rule and to examine the scientific evidence on its effects. With respect to impacts specifically on women’s reproductive health, Skuster says, “the crucial work of governments and NGOs toward meeting international commitments to reduce unsafe abortion, increase access to contraception and abortion, and decriminalize abortion will be slowed.”

An “early view” of the full commentary is available here.