Trump decision on Global Gag Rule a blow to women worldwide

Monday, January 23, 2017

woman talks to provider

More than 22 million women every year—almost all in developing countries—will have an unsafe abortion because they lack access to safe, high-quality abortion care. There are 225 million women in developing countries who want to avoid pregnancy but lack access to modern contraception. Death from pregnancy-related causes is the second-leading killer of teen girls and women in the global south are most at risk of injury or death from unsafe abortion.

Despite these harrowing figures, President Donald Trump has chosen to expand the Global Gag Rule, a harmful U.S. policy that forces providers to choose between receiving U.S. foreign assistance funds and providing comprehensive—often lifesaving—care. The Trump Gag Rule restricts organizations that receive U.S. global health funds from using private funds to inform or educate their government on safe abortion or to provide legal abortion services. Governments around the world have made progress toward ensuring every woman can exercise her right to abortion; progress that will be slowed by the GGR.

“Most Americans would be appalled by the effect of the Global Gag Rule. We request that the new administration not make this issue a political football at the expense of women around the world. Truly, if most people understood the impact of this policy they wouldn’t support it. Do we really want to deny women access to reproductive health care, particularly those who may be victims of sexual violence?” says John Hetherington, Ipas president and CEO.  

Lack of access to contraception and safe abortion is a major public health crisis for women in the world’s poorest countries. But rather than addressing this crisis, the Global Gag Rule broadens restrictions already imposed by the Helms Amendment, which prohibits the use of U.S. funds for abortion-related work overseas.

“The Global Gag Rule puts women’s rights and lives at the whim of U.S. politicians and results in consequences with which most Americans would not agree. In some countries where we work this policy will put a chill on important efforts by nongovernmental organizations to deliver needed services and to engage in advocacy or free speech around safe abortion. This administration claims that it won’t be politics as usual; but the Global Gag Rule is just that,” Hetherington adds.