Family Planning in Developing Countries is Becoming More Restricted

Elections in the United States, and the resulting policies from a new administration, have international consequences. These consequences usually end up impacting those who need the help the most. 

In 2009, after the election of Barack Obama, the Mexico City Policy (also known as the “global gag rule”) was rescinded. This policy, introduced first by Reagan in 1984, blocks foreign aid to non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that discuss abortion as part of family planning or advocate for abortion rights, even if they use non-US funds to do so.

But just days into his presidency, Donald Trump signed an executive order reinstating the gag rule. But he took it a huge step forward and directed secretary of state Rex Tillerson to identify more aid programs that could fall under the ban. In expanding the policy, it has gone from covering about $600 million in family planning funding to almost $9 billion in funding—making it cover all global health organizations that receive U.S. government funding, rather than only family planning organizations that do. This includes USAID, the Department of State, Global Aids Coordinator, Center of Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute of Health, and the Department of Defense.

In other words, Donald Trump restored a bad law and made it super duper bad.

The ramifications of this policy are huge. Not only does this effect family planning, abortion, and contraception, but it will also affect healthcare prevention services for HIV and Zika.

This policy will kill women worldwide and force struggling families and communities to struggle more, make no mistake. International healthcare workers will have to decide whether to offer family planning care that includes abortion at the expense of an often-critical line of funding.

The positive domino effect of women controlling their childbearing abilities is profound. When women have control over their fertility and ability to use birth control, their education and employment chances increase. As a result, their income, family stability, mental health and happiness improves. Which also improves the same aspects of life for their children. This leads to improvement in the economic health, social structure, and communities women live in. It is all connected.

For more information on the global gag rule, see this great article from the Guttmacher Institute. For a great place to see actual impact of the global gag rule, and a group you can donate to in order to help fight the effects of the policy, see the PAI organization.