Global gag rule punishes women

Only three days into his Presidency Donald Trump reinstated a very controversial bill, the Global Gag Rule (GGR).

To break down the Global Gag Rule, it has three basic restrictions.

First, it withholds US family planning funding and technical assistance from foreign non-government organisations (NGOs) — including reproductive health organisations, private hospitals, and clinics — that perform or promote abortions.

Second, the policy forbids NGOs that receive US funding from advocating for liberalisation or decriminalisation of abortion in their countries.

Third, in countries where abortion is permitted, the policy prohibits health workers at NGOs that receive US funding from offering abortion as an option, or referring women to an abortion provider.

This is a Reagan-era rule that ironically comes a day after the 44th anniversary of Roe v Wade, the US Supreme Court decision that legalised abortions.

Foreign organisations that use US family planning money can’t use any money, from any other donor, on abortion related services, including medical advice or referrals — even in countries where abortion is legal.

US foreign aid has never been used to pay for abortions as a method of family planning. Trump’s executive order was framed as a way to protect US taxpayer dollars from funding abortions. However that is illegal, under the 1973 Helms Amendment, which is a law applied to every administration and not an executive order that presidents can repeal or replace at will.

But the US Agency for International Development’s two biggest family planning partners, Marie Stopes International (MSI) and the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), will refuse to sign the policy.

Experts expect the GGR to lead to an increase in unsafe abortions and maternal mortality worldwide.

MSI estimates there will be an additional 2.2 million abortions globally each year, and that 2.1 million of those will be unsafe. Earlier research also suggests that the abortion rate will rise.

A 20-country study by the Stanford University School of Medicine, published by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in 2011, found that abortion rates went up by 40 percent the last time this policy was in place, under President George W. Bush.

In countries most heavily affected by the policy, contraceptive use dropped, and a woman’s odds of having an unsafe abortion were two times higher after the policy went into effect.

In many countries, the Global Gag Rule forced providers that declined US funding to close clinics, cut services, and increase fees.

Established health care referral networks collapsed as key family planning providers downsized and struggled to cope with budget cuts.

For example, the Planned Parenthood Association of Ghana (PPAG), the country’s oldest and largest provider of reproductive health services, lost $200,000 in USAID funding in 2003 when they rejected the GGR. As a result, PPAG laid off 67 key staff members and reduced nursing staff by 44 percent, leading to a 40 percent reduction in family planning use by those served by the organisation.

Similarly, Marie Stopes Kenya (MS Kenya) and the Family Planning Association of Kenya (FPAK), the country’s two leading reproductive health providers, refused to comply in 2001 and lost all US funding.

The policy forced MS Kenya to close two clinics in 2002 and the organisation was only able to keep further clinics from closing by laying off staff.

The GGR also led to a shortage of contraceptives and condoms in developing countries. Shortly after the reinstatement of the policy in 2001, shipments of US donated condoms and contraceptives completely ceased to 16 developing countries, primarily in Africa.

Family planning providers in another 16 countries lost access to condoms and contraceptives as a result of their refusal to accept the policy’s restrictions.

The Family Planning Association of Nepal lost $400,000 in USAID-funded contraceptives, two-thirds of its total stock, thus reducing the number of women they could serve, as they had refused to comply with the GGR.

In the past, the rule was applied only to family planning funding. But Trump’s executive order says he wants it to be applied to all US global health projects, affecting potentially $9.5 billion in funding, according to analysis by PAI.

The Trump order applies to HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment, including the Bush-era President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (PEPFAR) programme; some gender-based violence prevention programmes; maternal and child health; nutrition; infectious diseases including malaria, tuberculosis, and neglected tropical diseases; and foreign projects of the Centres for Disease Control and the National Institutes of Health.

It is unclear however if the rule will affect the Global Fund for AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis, which leads prevention globally on those diseases.

This policy is going to make it difficult for women in particular to have HIV testing and quick, immediate referrals for anti-retroviral drugs that can help HIV-positive people who follow a proper treatment course live as long as HIV-negative people.

The policy could potentially have an impact on supplies of those life-saving drugs.

This action stands to markedly decrease women’s access to reliable reproductive health care information and services, including access to contraception and STD screenings, and means that fewer women and girls globally will be fully-informed about their reproductive rights.

Trump’s policy also amplifies the risks of the so-called chilling effect, the pressure organisations feel to avoid even legal activities, if they might seem too close to something that’s illegal.

That has been especially true about post-abortion care. After George W. Bush renewed the policy in 2000, there was confusion around whether USAID grant recipients could treat haemorrhaging pregnant women, because the haemorrhage might have been caused by a self-induced abortion.

In 2001, however, the president explicitly added an exception for post-abortion care to the policy. It is unclear if Trump’s version of the regulation will honour that exception.

There was much confusion over past restrictions on US funding. When Trump’s press secretary Sean Spicer was announcing the rule’s return he said the administration was ending the use of taxpayer dollars to fund abortions.

USAID did not fund abortions before Trump’s announcement; that has been illegal since 1973.

Supporters have congratulated the president for bringing aid dollars back home.

Total US foreign aid is 0.1 percent of the total federal budget, and family planning assistance is 0.1 percent of that.

A 2015 study found that most Americans think US aid makes up a quarter of the federal budget.

MSI provides safe abortion services, and it always refuses to abide by the so-called global gag rule. This time round, the group will lose about $30 million, or 20 percent of its budget.

The Guttmacher Institute found that in 2016, US funding for contraceptives prevented more than 2 million unsafe abortions and 6 million unintended pregnancies, and helped prevent 11,000 maternal deaths worldwide.

The Trump-Pence administration simply ignores the obvious truth that contraception reduces abortions; bans don’t.

The fact is that under the First Amendment the Global Gag Rule is completely unconstitutional, as it suppresses the right to freedom of expression, free speech and the restriction of advocacy.

This policy will roll back the healthcare progress made under the Obama administration.

When you look at former president Obama’s presidency timeline, you see that three days into his first term as President in 2009, he overturned the GGR.

Since Ronald Reagan enacted the policy as a Republican president, the Democratic presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama have rescinded it.

Donald Trump is not the first Republican president after Reagan to reinstate the policy. George W. Bush also reinstated it in 2001. However, Donald Trump’s version of the policy is much broader than any of his Republican predecessors.

In Obama’s healthcare bill he specifically said that insurance companies need to provide contraceptive coverage to everyone who is insured.

His reasoning behind this is that it is not just a health issue, it is an economic issue too. Obama is a supporter of legal abortions as he knows that if there are not legal abortions there will not be safe abortions.

Donald Trump has not hidden the fact that he is a pro-life president. People who are pro-life are against abortions, no matter the circumstance. They believe abortion is murder and that it is wrong, and that women shouldn’t get pregnant just to abort the foetus, even though that very rarely happens.

During a debate with Secretary Clinton, when questioned about overturning Roe v Wade, the Supreme Court decision to legalise abortions in every state, he expressed that he would appoint pro-life judges and let it go back to the individual states to choose whether abortion is legalised or not.

He believes that women should be “punished” for abortion and by reinstating the GGR, it seems this is exactly what he is doing.

While Donald Trump is pro-life, he has said that the only exceptions for abortion would be incest, rape and when the mother’s health is endangered.

The fact that Donald Trump is trying to frame this executive order as a way to get taxpayer money back home and not paying for abortions is atrocious.

All Trump is doing is making it even harder for women to get help for abortions, HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment and diseases such as malaria and tuberculosis. This bill makes it difficult for women in developing countries to access safe abortions and medical advice about abortions.

Foreign organisations have to face the difficult decision between refusing to comply and then losing all funding from the United States, or complying and reversing the gains of the past eight years. The organisations are in a no win situation.

Bibliography

kff.org/global-health-policy/poll-finding/data-note-americans-views-on-the-u-s-role-in-global-health

www.bustle.com/p/the-global-gag-rule-is-unconstitutional-for-reasons-that-have-nothing-to-do-with-abortion-32653

www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2017/01/trump_s_global_gag_rule_is_even_worse_than_it_seemed.html

pai.org/gag-rule

www.buzzfeed.com/jinamoore/trumps-anti-abortion-rule-is-broader-than-anyone-expected?utm_term=.odVvnL5Jy#.qc6j8BVJ1

www.who.int/reproductivehealth/topics/unsafe_abortion/magnitude/en/

www.who.int/bulletin/volumes/89/12/11-091660/en/

www.ontheissues.org/2016/Barack_Obama_Abortion.htm

www.usaid.gov/what-we-do/global-health/family-planning/usaids-family-planning-guiding-principles-and-us

www.ppag-gh.org/ppag/

www.ippf.org/about-us/member-associations/kenya

www.fpan.org

www.pepfar.gov

http://constitution.findlaw.com/amendment1.html

Only three days into his Presidency Donald Trump reinstated a very controversial bill, the Global Gag Rule (GGR).

To break down the Global Gag Rule, it has three basic restrictions.

First, it withholds US family planning funding and technical assistance from foreign non-government organisations (NGOs) — including reproductive health organisations, private hospitals, and clinics — that perform or promote abortions.

Second, the policy forbids NGOs that receive US funding from advocating for liberalisation or decriminalisation of abortion in their countries.

Third, in countries where abortion is permitted, the policy prohibits health workers at NGOs that receive US funding from offering abortion as an option, or referring women to an abortion provider.

This is a Reagan-era rule that ironically comes a day after the 44th anniversary of Roe v Wade, the US Supreme Court decision that legalised abortions.

Foreign organisations that use US family planning money can’t use any money, from any other donor, on abortion related services, including medical advice or referrals — even in countries where abortion is legal.

US foreign aid has never been used to pay for abortions as a method of family planning. Trump’s executive order was framed as a way to protect US taxpayer dollars from funding abortions. However that is illegal, under the 1973 Helms Amendment, which is a law applied to every administration and not an executive order that presidents can repeal or replace at will.

But the US Agency for International Development’s two biggest family planning partners, Marie Stopes International (MSI) and the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), will refuse to sign the policy.

Experts expect the GGR to lead to an increase in unsafe abortions and maternal mortality worldwide.

MSI estimates there will be an additional 2.2 million abortions globally each year, and that 2.1 million of those will be unsafe. Earlier research also suggests that the abortion rate will rise.

A 20-country study by the Stanford University School of Medicine, published by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in 2011, found that abortion rates went up by 40 percent the last time this policy was in place, under President George W. Bush.

In countries most heavily affected by the policy, contraceptive use dropped, and a woman’s odds of having an unsafe abortion were two times higher after the policy went into effect.

In many countries, the Global Gag Rule forced providers that declined US funding to close clinics, cut services, and increase fees.

Established health care referral networks collapsed as key family planning providers downsized and struggled to cope with budget cuts.

For example, the Planned Parenthood Association of Ghana (PPAG), the country’s oldest and largest provider of reproductive health services, lost $200,000 in USAID funding in 2003 when they rejected the GGR. As a result, PPAG laid off 67 key staff members and reduced nursing staff by 44 percent, leading to a 40 percent reduction in family planning use by those served by the organisation.

Similarly, Marie Stopes Kenya (MS Kenya) and the Family Planning Association of Kenya (FPAK), the country’s two leading reproductive health providers, refused to comply in 2001 and lost all US funding.

The policy forced MS Kenya to close two clinics in 2002 and the organisation was only able to keep further clinics from closing by laying off staff.

The GGR also led to a shortage of contraceptives and condoms in developing countries. Shortly after the reinstatement of the policy in 2001, shipments of US donated condoms and contraceptives completely ceased to 16 developing countries, primarily in Africa.

Family planning providers in another 16 countries lost access to condoms and contraceptives as a result of their refusal to accept the policy’s restrictions.

The Family Planning Association of Nepal lost $400,000 in USAID-funded contraceptives, two-thirds of its total stock, thus reducing the number of women they could serve, as they had refused to comply with the GGR.

In the past, the rule was applied only to family planning funding. But Trump’s executive order says he wants it to be applied to all US global health projects, affecting potentially $9.5 billion in funding, according to analysis by PAI.

The Trump order applies to HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment, including the Bush-era President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (PEPFAR) programme; some gender-based violence prevention programmes; maternal and child health; nutrition; infectious diseases including malaria, tuberculosis, and neglected tropical diseases; and foreign projects of the Centres for Disease Control and the National Institutes of Health.

It is unclear however if the rule will affect the Global Fund for AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis, which leads prevention globally on those diseases.

This policy is going to make it difficult for women in particular to have HIV testing and quick, immediate referrals for anti-retroviral drugs that can help HIV-positive people who follow a proper treatment course live as long as HIV-negative people.

The policy could potentially have an impact on supplies of those life-saving drugs.

This action stands to markedly decrease women’s access to reliable reproductive health care information and services, including access to contraception and STD screenings, and means that fewer women and girls globally will be fully-informed about their reproductive rights.

Trump’s policy also amplifies the risks of the so-called chilling effect, the pressure organisations feel to avoid even legal activities, if they might seem too close to something that’s illegal.

That has been especially true about post-abortion care. After George W. Bush renewed the policy in 2000, there was confusion around whether USAID grant recipients could treat haemorrhaging pregnant women, because the haemorrhage might have been caused by a self-induced abortion.

In 2001, however, the president explicitly added an exception for post-abortion care to the policy. It is unclear if Trump’s version of the regulation will honour that exception.

There was much confusion over past restrictions on US funding. When Trump’s press secretary Sean Spicer was announcing the rule’s return he said the administration was ending the use of taxpayer dollars to fund abortions.

USAID did not fund abortions before Trump’s announcement; that has been illegal since 1973.

Supporters have congratulated the president for bringing aid dollars back home.

Total US foreign aid is 0.1 percent of the total federal budget, and family planning assistance is 0.1 percent of that.

A 2015 study found that most Americans think US aid makes up a quarter of the federal budget.

MSI provides safe abortion services, and it always refuses to abide by the so-called global gag rule. This time round, the group will lose about $30 million, or 20 percent of its budget.

The Guttmacher Institute found that in 2016, US funding for contraceptives prevented more than 2 million unsafe abortions and 6 million unintended pregnancies, and helped prevent 11,000 maternal deaths worldwide.

The Trump-Pence administration simply ignores the obvious truth that contraception reduces abortions; bans don’t.

The fact is that under the First Amendment the Global Gag Rule is completely unconstitutional, as it suppresses the right to freedom of expression, free speech and the restriction of advocacy.

This policy will roll back the healthcare progress made under the Obama administration.

When you look at former president Obama’s presidency timeline, you see that three days into his first term as President in 2009, he overturned the GGR.

Since Ronald Reagan enacted the policy as a Republican president, the Democratic presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama have rescinded it.

Donald Trump is not the first Republican president after Reagan to reinstate the policy. George W. Bush also reinstated it in 2001. However, Donald Trump’s version of the policy is much broader than any of his Republican predecessors.

In Obama’s healthcare bill he specifically said that insurance companies need to provide contraceptive coverage to everyone who is insured.

His reasoning behind this is that it is not just a health issue, it is an economic issue too. Obama is a supporter of legal abortions as he knows that if there are not legal abortions there will not be safe abortions.

Donald Trump has not hidden the fact that he is a pro-life president. People who are pro-life are against abortions, no matter the circumstance. They believe abortion is murder and that it is wrong, and that women shouldn’t get pregnant just to abort the foetus, even though that very rarely happens.

During a debate with Secretary Clinton, when questioned about overturning Roe v Wade, the Supreme Court decision to legalise abortions in every state, he expressed that he would appoint pro-life judges and let it go back to the individual states to choose whether abortion is legalised or not.

He believes that women should be “punished” for abortion and by reinstating the GGR, it seems this is exactly what he is doing.

While Donald Trump is pro-life, he has said that the only exceptions for abortion would be incest, rape and when the mother’s health is endangered.

The fact that Donald Trump is trying to frame this executive order as a way to get taxpayer money back home and not paying for abortions is atrocious.

All Trump is doing is making it even harder for women to get help for abortions, HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment and diseases such as malaria and tuberculosis. This bill makes it difficult for women in developing countries to access safe abortions and medical advice about abortions.

Foreign organisations have to face the difficult decision between refusing to comply and then losing all funding from the United States, or complying and reversing the gains of the past eight years. The organisations are in a no win situation.

Bibliography

kff.org/global-health-policy/poll-finding/data-note-americans-views-on-the-u-s-role-in-global-health

www.bustle.com/p/the-global-gag-rule-is-unconstitutional-for-reasons-that-have-nothing-to-do-with-abortion-32653

www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2017/01/trump_s_global_gag_rule_is_even_worse_than_it_seemed.html

pai.org/gag-rule

www.buzzfeed.com/jinamoore/trumps-anti-abortion-rule-is-broader-than-anyone-expected?utm_term=.odVvnL5Jy#.qc6j8BVJ1

www.who.int/reproductivehealth/topics/unsafe_abortion/magnitude/en/

www.who.int/bulletin/volumes/89/12/11-091660/en/

www.ontheissues.org/2016/Barack_Obama_Abortion.htm

www.usaid.gov/what-we-do/global-health/family-planning/usaids-family-planning-guiding-principles-and-us

www.ppag-gh.org/ppag/

www.ippf.org/about-us/member-associations/kenya

www.fpan.org

www.pepfar.gov

http://constitution.findlaw.com/amendment1.html

Your email address will not be published. Comments will display after being approved by a staff member. Comments may be edited for clarity.

Poll

  • Voting please wait...
    Your vote has been cast. Reloading page...
    How do you rate National’s election-year Budget?