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The Global Gag Rule: Will HER End It?

On the ninth day of his inauguration, President Biden abolished Republican policy to keep millions of women and girls out of life-saving medicine, leading to increased abortion rates, unplanned pregnancies, and the risk of maternal death. With his pen plunge, he dramatically changed US policy on reproductive health and rights at home and abroad. But analysts say it may take years to overcome the damage done under the four years of policy of the former Trump administration.

“There’s still a lot to do,” said Seema Jalan, Executive Director of the United Nations Foundation’s Universal Access Projects and Policies.

The first Global Gag Rule (also known as Mexico City Policy) under President Reagan banned US funding for abortion services, counseling, or referrals to international organizations. Since then, all Democratic presidents have abolished it. All Republicans have revived it.

“What is really clear about global gag rules is that they do not reduce the number of abortions. In fact, on the contrary, it increases the number of abortions in the affected countries,” said the director of the International Women’s Health Union of Advocacy and Policy. Shannon Kowalski says. According to a study released in 2019, pre-Trump gag rules increased abortion by 40% and pregnancy by 12%, creating a significant risk of maternal mortality in the most affected countries. Lancet.. “Therefore, this policy is being enforced by people trying to save lives, but it actually has the opposite effect,” Kowalski adds.

Still, Trump has raised the gag rule limits to new heights. The previous iteration applied only to family planning funding, but he extended his policy to affect almost all US diplomatic medical assistance. $ 7 billion In 2020 alone, we have programs in all areas, from child nutrition to HIV / AIDS and malaria prophylaxis.

Maryse Ouellet, Ethiopia’s Country Director, is part of a global network of reproductive health care providers who have lost significant US funding as a result of refusing to comply with Gagrule as a “weapon that kills many women.” Says Abe Shiburu. When Trump’s gag rules came into force, Sibul had to run the organization’s Zimbabwe program and the group had to cut its healthcare sites in half from 1,200 to 600.

The pandemic made everything worse. “COVID is another gag rule,” Shibru continues. In many places, the blockade prevented women from going to the clinic. In Ethiopia, women are afraid of being infected with the virus, thus delaying the care they need. Contraceptives (mainly manufactured abroad) are in short supply in many parts of Africa. Trump’s gag rules exacerbated the victims.

MSI Reproductive Choices (the parent group of Marie Stopes) estimates: Continued US funding It can help prevent 6 million unintended pregnancies, 1.8 million unsafe abortions, and 20,000 maternal mortality.

In addition, death can be caused by self-induced abortion among women or young girls who cannot receive care. “They did this with knitting needles, sticks, hangers and medicines, which means I could continue. It’s incredibly miserable,” said Sophie, Country Director of Marie Stops Kenya.・ Hodder says. “Infections and bleeding can be fatal. It’s a pain.”

At home and abroad, Trump’s policies have fueled distrust among many who wonder “what happened to the ethical compass of the United States.” Dr. Jeanne Conley, President-elect of the International Federation of Obstetrics and Gynecology, says. “I feel like there was a loss of faith.”

Gag rules weren’t the only way Trump implemented to attack assisted reproductive technology. In the United States, he is an organization funded under Title X, the only federal grant program specializing in reproductive medicine services for low-income patients, including screening for cervical and breast cancer. Has implemented strict new rules. This “domestic gag rule” is 1.6 million patients Nationally, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive policy research group.Trump also withdrew the United States from the World Health Organization (Biden rejoined) and stopped funding the United Nations Population Fund (President Biden said Review and restore That. )

This repetitive, non-repeating approach to federal policy creates havoc on long-term budgets and plans. “Every time we have a new president in the United States, all the progress we have made in integrating services will fall apart, so we need a permanent fix,” said Heilbrunn, a professor of population and family health at Columbia University. Chairman Terry McGovern said.

It can come in the form of Global Health, Empowerment, and Rights (HER) law, which prohibits all future versions of the Global Gag Rule. Introduced by Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Congressman Nita Lowey (D-NY) in 2019, she is a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Proponents want to work beyond the aisles under the new administration.

Reconstructing the problem may help. For example, studies have shown that restrictions on assisted reproductive technology services contribute to maternal mortality. According to the World Health Organization, more than 800 women die every day from preventable deaths due to pregnancy and childbirth-related causes. As Conley says, “every day, it’s the same as two jumbo jets crashing, full of pregnant women.” Global gag rules and such policies contribute to these deaths. Looking at it that way, “we must believe that some of the Republicans who are thinking support a permanent amendment,” McGovern says.

She also demands money — now. “Simply revoking a policy and not providing funding or support to fix the damage is like doing only a quarter of the work,” McGovern adds. President Biden ordered:All necessary steps“Is taken to carry out the government’s commitment to reproductive health, but there is a delay between words and actions,” the clock is already ticking, “says Jalan.

The whole country is suffering when women and girls do not have access to medical care. 14 and 15 year old girls get pregnant“This is the end of their education. They don’t rest for half a year and come back. That’s it, they’re done,” Hodder adds. Overwhelming evidence Point to Economic profit The number of women who play a role in the workforce and leadership, “If you have to drop out of school at the age of 15 because you are pregnant, you cannot take leadership in that country.”

Many of the United Nations Sustainable development goals— Reduce poverty and hunger, promote health, education and gender equality — rely on adequate assisted reproductive technology. “Without family planning, it is unlikely that we will reach or achieve our Sustainable Development Goals,” Shibru adds. Like many healthcare professionals around the world, he secures his hopes to the new US President to maximize the potential of women and girls.

“With the Biden administration, we know what we need to achieve,” continues Jalan. “This is the moment when this administration will make a historic change in the way foreign policy is implemented in a better way for everyone on the planet.”

About the author: Karen Coates is an independent journalist and writer in New Mexico, covering food, the environment, health and human rights worldwide. She is a Fellow of the International Women’s Media Foundation, a contributor to Archeology Magazine, and an editor / producer of the next film, Eternal Harvest, which records the sustained impact of the US bombing campaign in Laos.

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