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Indian women at a rural pregnancy clinic © Travel Stock/Shutterstock
Indian women at a rural pregnancy clinic © Travel Stock/Shutterstock

How Trump's Global Gag Rule Will Affect Women Around the World

Picture of Nikki Vargas
Travel Editor
Updated: 24 January 2017
Saturday’s historic Women’s March – held in cities across the globe – saw an awe-inspiring grassroots movement rise in protest of President Trump’s politics. On Monday, Trump seemingly fired back by reimposing the Global Gag Rule, a policy that targets women globally and threatens the lives of those in developing nations.

In one of his first acts as president, Trump – surrounded by a team of men – signed an executive order to reimplement the Global Gag Rule affecting the availability of sexual and reproductive health care for women in third world countries.

What the Global Gag Rule does is ban US foreign aid from supporting international NGOs that provide abortion services. In short, this new bill forces the hand of NGOs to choose between US funding or providing high quality reproductive healthcare and counseling to women in need. This is a similar move to the chokehold that US Republicans have currently placed Planned Parenthood in, forcing the organization to choose between losing funding or limiting their healthcare services.

According to Suzanne Ehlers who is CEO of PAI, an organization dedicated to championing global reproductive rights, “Trump’s Global Gag rule will obstruct and destroy the work of health care providers who are often women’s main — and sometimes only — source for reproductive health care.”

Woman cuddling child in Philippines © Rey Borlaza/Shutterstock

Woman cuddling child in Philippines © Rey Borlaza/Shutterstock

The Global Gag Rule – also known as the “Mexico City Policy” – was first implemented in 1984 by Ronald Reagan. Since then, the rule has been treated as a sort of bipartisan political football match with men determining the fate of women’s bodies. In 1993, Bill Clinton took office and immediately repealed the rule. In 2001, George W. Bush took office and reinstated it. In 2009, Barack Obama was sworn in and made repealing the Global Gag Rule his first order of business. Yesterday, Donald Trump kicked the ball back over to Republicans and reinstated the rule once again.

“Trump’s Global Gag Rule will not only severely restrict access to legal abortion, but will also have more insidious and damaging effects on women’s health overall,” said PAI in a statement. “Health care providers will be forced to cut services, increase fees, and even close clinics altogether as a result of severe funding cuts.”

An estimated 225 million women in developing nations have limited access to contraceptives – a problematic reality as women in poverty and volatile political climates may want to avoid pregnancy. One organization taking a hit from Trump’s executive order is Marie Stopes International – one of the largest global family planning organization.

“Marie Stopes International knows that safe abortion is a vital component of women’s reproductive healthcare, and therefore we cannot agree to [Trump’s] conditions,” wrote Marie Stopes International in a statement. “As a result, our organization will be prohibited from receiving any new funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) so long as the Executive Order is in place.”

Women in developing nations © ziyo/Pixabay

Women in developing nations © ziyo/Pixabay

With the reimplementation of the Global Gag Rule, Marie Stopes International projects a grim number of 2.1 million unsafe abortions, 21,700 maternal deaths and 6.5 million unintended pregnancies across developing nations. “The proponents of this policy maintain that it’s only about ensuring that no U.S. money goes to abortion, when in fact it is all about starving the most effective family planning providers in developing countries,” said Wendy Turnbull, Senior Advisor International Advocacy at PAI.

To support women’s sexual and reproductive services in developing nations, you can donate to PAI or support Marie Stopes International in their fight to protect a woman’s right to healthcare.