WASHINGTON: International health organisations and US lawmakers warned on Tuesday that millions of women in developing countries will pay the price for the Trump administration’s decision to reinstate a ‘global gag’ on abortion practices and counselling.
The Global Gag Rule disqualifies all non-governmental organisations from receiving US assistance if they use funds, including those received from non-American sources, to provide abortion services, counselling or referrals. They will also be disqualified if they engage in advocacy within their own countries to liberalise abortion-related policies.
The new US president, Donald Trump, reinstated the ban on Monday, his first working day in office. “President Donald Trump’s decision to use women’s health and access to family planning as a political football is extremely disappointing,” said Senator Ben Cardin, a ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Marie Stopes International (MSI), a major health provider, warned that the ban “could result in 6.5 million unintended pregnancies, 2.2 million abortions, 2.1 million unsafe abortions and 21,700 maternal deaths” during President Donald Trump’s 4-year term.
These statistics are only for the facilities that receive financial support from MSI and do not include millions of others who receive financial help from other groups. MSI is one of USAID’s biggest family planning partners and provides pregnancy assistance and counselling to women in developing countries.
“By reinstating the rule, President Trump is denying millions of women access to much needed family planning services, endangering their lives and the lives of their children. Congress must work to end this dangerous policy once and for all,” said Marjorie Newman-Williams, MSI’s vice president.
“Every year, 21.6 million women are so desperate to end their pregnancy they put their lives on the line by risking an unsafe abortion. Thousands of them die and millions more are left with life altering injuries,” she said and warned that the ban meant “turning our backs on the very women who need us most.”
She referred to a 2011 study, which found that abortion rates in sub-Saharan African countries actually increased when the Bush administration enforced the ban. “The impact of its re-enactment today will be no less devastating,” she added.
The global gag rule was originally announced by President Ronald Reagan in 1984, and was then known as the Mexico City Policy because it was announced thee. The measure applies even to the countries where abortion is legal.
courtesy : dawn news