Trump’s executive order jeopardizes women’s health


Courtesy of ZeWrestler via WikiCommons

The Global Gag Rule sparked protests internationally. Pictured above is a sign from a Women’s March in Frankfurt, Germany.

Idoia Solano, Writer

President Donald J. Trump reinstated what is popularly known as the “Mexico City Policy” on Jan. 23. By signing this executive order,  the U.S. will no longer be aiding  any nongovernmental organizations that provide or promote abortion as a family planning option.

Also called the “Global Gag Rule” by its opponents, it cuts off all fundings to overseas health organizations whose work is in any way associated with abortion, regardless of the advice. It also cuts off a wide range of family planning and reproductive health options that these NGOs provide to millions of women around the globe.

This backward policy has gone back and forth since Ronald Reagan first established it in the 1984 U.N. International Conference on Population held in Mexico City. Since then, every Democrat administration revokes it while every Republican administration reinstates it.

An estimate of 2.6 million women and men protested in the Women’s March on Jan. 21. Demanding women’s rights, protesters gathered in major cities across the country such as Washington D.C., Los Angeles, Chicago and Boston. Several other protests were held in Europe.

The Women’s March and anti-Trump demonstrations, along with the reinstatement of the Mexico City Policy are a perfect reflection of the deep division that American society is currently experiencing. American women are standing against their president, protesting the many attacks he’s made towards them, and against the sexist policies he plans to implement.

In the case of the “Mexico City Policy,” the health of millions of women globally is threatened. Healthcare -providing organizations are instantly put in a position where they are forced to choose whether they accept the ruling or reject it and lose U.S funding.

Either way, women are the ones that lose, especially those women and girls in developing countries to whom NGOs represent their only access to any kind of healthcare. For instance, International Planned Parenthood Federation, one of the greatest reproductive and sexual health-providing global NGOs, has a lot at stake with the reinstatement of the Gag Rule: the group stands to lose up to $100 million it currently receives from the United States.

It’s been 33 years since this policy was first implemented by Reagan. Even though it is cruel towards women, it might have worked in the past when access to information wasn’t as easy and women’s rights didn’t seem to be in the spotlight (where they should always be).  Yet when a policy like the Global Gag Rule is reinstated and expanded in 2017, now applying 15 times more funding than normal and targeting the most effective health organizations in 60 low-middle income countries, the reasons for concern are more than obvious. Has society experienced any sort of progress throughout the past 33 years? Maybe as a whole, but as long as old rich white men are the ones making the decisions, it will not accurately reflect women’s daily life and rights in the U.S., nor beyond its borders.

However, none of that money is used for abortion services; the Helms Amendment of 1973 prohibits the use of federal funding for abortion service. It is a rule that none of the previous administrations has ever revoked. The Global Gag Rule tries to pry away women’s rights globally. However, by signing a paper in Washington D.C, the demand for abortion services will not be eliminated.Women will still have the same need to abort. The only difference now will be that women no longer have access to safe medical procedures.They’ll be forced to practice it illegally while using dangerous methods, especially in developing countries and conflict zones. An estimation by the World Health Organization report more than 21 million women have unsafe abortions every year. This could dramatically increase the rate of maternal deaths,  with unsafe abortions currently being 13 percent of total maternal deaths.

Dramatically reducing aid to NGOs doesn’t effect only abortion-related servicesbut targets them as a whole. Sneha Barot, an employee of the Guttmacher Institute , said, “Health providers have been forced to fire staff, reduce their services or even close their clinics altogether.”

The lack of funding global health organizations will experience will affect many of their programs, such as family planning, reproductive health assistance and contraceptives.

The U.S. Agency for International Development estimates the reduced funding will cause 1.5 million women to lose contraceptives, leading to 6.5 million unwanted pregnancies.2.2 million of those pregnancies will be aborted ; 2.1 of them unsafe. This whole process is estimated to provoke a total 21,700 maternal deaths.

Despite what numbers show, there are still people that applaud Trump’s reinstatement of the Global Gag Rule. Tony Perkins, president of Family Research Council (FRC) said, “A vital step in the journey to make America great again[is] recognizing and affirming the universal ideal that all human beings have inherent worth and dignity, regardless of their age or nationality.”

The pro-life leader Marjorie Dannenfelser thanked Donald Trump for “ensuring Americans are no longer complicit in violating the dignity of women and children overseas.”

Regardless of what American pro-life leaders may say, this policy has already been active for a while in the past, directly affecting vulnerable women around the globe.

A study conducted by the International Food Policy Research Institute and published by New York magazine in 2015 focused on analyzing the effects of the Mexico City Policy in Ghana. The study reveals that many clinics reduced their services or closed,unwanted pregnancies increased, and 20 percent of them were aborted..

Another study conducted by Stanford University in 2011 demonstrated that the abortion rates in sub-Saharian countries rose due to lack of access to contraceptives with the Global Gag Rule.As it’s shown by these studies, the Mexico City Policy is not effective in eliminating abortion services. It provokes the opposite phenomenon as abortion rates increase overseas.

For any citizen with progressive ideas, this policy itself makes no sense. It makes even less sense when objectively analyzing the facts; they clearly show that the effect on women all around the world is the opposite of what the politicians are trying to accomplish. While this nonsense is approved by powerful old men in Washington D.C., millions of women and girls in developing countries aredirectly affected by their decisions. They face severe danger every time they don’t have access to healthcare and safe procedural abortions.

Pro-life politicians and supporters claim to  protect the dignity and rights of unborn children However, these politicians are the same ones issuing laws and defending ideas that directly attack the dignity of certain groups of people and entire ethnicities. They have disrespected LGBTQ community, Muslims and undocumented immigrants.

The reinstatement of this old policy is a direct attack on women’s dignity, and is a huge step backwards for society as a whole. It’s everybody’s duty to resist these kind of policies and stand up for women’s rights globally. Women’s rights are human rights.