Trump Just Signed A ‘Gag Rule’ On Abortion—And It’ll Affect Us Too

by | Jan 25, 2017 | Health

By Alice Paulse

It’s not just happening ‘over there’ — it affects us too.

It did not take long for President Donald Trump to ruffle some feathers as his first order of business was to reinstate a policy which could affect women worldwide.

On Monday, President Trump reinstated the Mexico City Policy, referred to as the ‘global gag rule’ — which was first introduced by former President Ronald Reagan in 1984.

So, what does this really mean for South Africa?

Well, it’s an anti-abortion executive order that bans giving U.S funding to international non-profit health organisations (NGOs) that provide abortions regardless if U.S dollars are not exactly used for abortion-related services. Considering that the US gave South Africa R1.3 Billion for healthcare in 2016 alone,  we’d say that the implications of retracting this aid could be disastrous.

So, here are the two most important facts that you need to know about the policy..

It will increase abortion rates

Historically, whenever the US administration has implemented the ‘gag rule’, the global abortion rate rises. Whether you’re ‘pro-life’ or ‘pro-choice’ the fact remains the same — the policy is deadly for women and girls in developing countries and war zones. Without access to planned parenthood, contraception and clinics, they’re forced to resort to dangerous, often fatal, methods of ending their pregnancies.

The World Health Organization reported that an estimate of more than 21 million women a year have unsafe abortions in developing countries. This accounts for 13% of all maternal deaths.

Worth noting: The W.H.O report revealed that after Bush reinstated the global gag rule in 2001, Sub-Saharan Africa saw higher abortion rates. As the rule reduced contraceptive access, causing more unwanted pregnancies that women decided to terminate.

Less access to contraception 

The policy cuts off access to birth control and condoms, which critics say automatically leads to more accidental pregnancies.

According to the Guttmacher Institute, with every 10 million dollar decrease in U.S funding provided to these international organisations, an estimated 440,000 fewer people will receive contraception. That could result in 95, 000 more unintended pregnancies, 44,000 more unplanned births, 38, 000 more abortions (30, 000 of which would be unsafe), and another 200 maternal deaths would occur.

Why? It’s simple, because if funding gets cut, clinics have less money to put toward contraceptive access — and may even be forced to close.

How much money is actually spent on abortions?

The U.S spends 600 million dollars a year on international assistance for family planning and reproductive health programs. This provides 27 million women and couples access to contraceptives and supplies. And NONE of that money is spent on abortions (yes, we’re not kidding).

This is thanks to the Helms Amendment passed in 1973, which states that U.S tax dollars cannot be used to fund abortions i.e. none of that 600 million mentioned above can actually go towards providing safe abortions anyway. So, why the need for the ‘gag rule’ then? It’s because advocates of the rule believe that the Helms Amendment is not strong enough by itself.

Looking for more information on contraceptives? Here are 12 contraceptives you should think about trying (other than the Pill), plus the most important facts about the ‘morning-after pill‘.

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