A global gag rule enforced by the administration of President Donald Trump is putting the lives of many women around the globe at risk, cutting millions of dollars off to organizations that help deliver reproductive health choices to women and girls who don’t ordinarily have access to it.
The Global Gag Rule (GGR), which was put into place last year by Trump, has been instituted by every Republican presidential administration since President Ronald Reagan and aims to cut funding off to groups that provide reproductive health services if they provide, promote, or otherwise give information on obtaining an abortion. Even if a group so much as mentions abortion, they can lose funding from the United States.
One such organization, as reported by The Intercept this past weekend, is Marie Stopes International, a group that had received $6.5 million from the U.S. government in places like Uganda. It has since lost its funding because of the gag rule, even though it doesn’t provide abortions inside that country itself.
The group, among others, has been instrumental in providing birth control for many women in Uganda, where women often have up to 10 children in their lifetimes. But due to the cuts that the Trump administration is implementing, more than 14 percent of their outreach groups that help educate women on their reproductive options will end.
That can mean life-and-death outcomes for the women they serve: Uganda’s mother mortality rates during birth are substantially higher than the rest of the world. A 2015 estimate of that mortality rate found that 343 women per 100,000 in that nation died in childbirth. Their rate is more than twice that found in the U.S., and only 35 other countries (out of 184 around the world) have a worse outcome.
There’s significant evidence that suggests that the gag rule actually causes more abortions to occur than it prevents. Because the GGR eliminate funding to other services, including family planning education and birth control, the end result is that more women have unplanned pregnancies, resulting in more abortions, according to a study of former President George W. Bush’s gag rule.
Trump's own gag rule could end up being worse than Bush's: The current president's executive order goes beyond what previous administrations have put into place, expanding to global health organizations whose purposes go beyond just family planning. In short, it will affect reproductive rights groups, but also programs that aid nations fighting malaria, HIV/AIDS, and other ailments that aren't related to abortion at all, according to one analysis.
Women deserve to have choices, and to make decisions that impact their own bodies based on the options made available to them. Many health services around the world depend upon the assistance in the form of aid from the U.S. government — when these funds dry up, the end result is catastrophic.
The gag rule needs to be lifted, and Trump needs to surround himself with better educated aides in his White House who understand that their politics don’t line up with reality when it comes to helping women around the globe.
Banner/Thumbnail Photo Credit: James Akena/Reuters