A study conducted by Stanford researchers, Eran Bendavid and Grant Miller, revealed that when the Global Gag Rule was in effect, rates of abortion increased in Africa. The Global Gag Rule bans US funding for family planning programs in developing countries that provide information to women or advocate on a full range of options, including abortion. The researchers in this study, which is the first to evaluate the Global Gag Rule quantitatively, reviewed health statistics and demographic information in 20 African nations.
The researchers attribute the spike in abortion rates to the lack of available contraception during the years when the Global Gag Rule was in effect. Miller stated, “If women use abortion as a substitute for modern contraceptives, then reductions in birth control supply could lead to an increase in abortions. Regardless of one’s view about abortion, this result shows that the policy objectives of neither side are being met.” Bendavid and Miller’s findings were published in the World Health Organization Bulletin. Latanya Mapp Frett, vice president of Global, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, stated, “The global gag rule prohibits U.S. funding to many of the world’s most experienced family planning organizations, disrupts essential health care for poor and vulnerable communities, and restricts health care providers from counseling patients on their full range of options. Although proponents of the global gag rule seek to limit abortion, this study shows that in reality the policy leads to more unintended pregnancies, more unsafe abortions, and more women dying from completely preventable causes.”
In late September, Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) reintroduced the Global Democracy Promotion Act (GDPA). If passed, the bill would overturn the Global Gag Rule. The bill states that “foreign nongovernmental organizations shall not be ineligible for such assistance solely on the basis of health or medical services, including counseling and referral services, provided by such organizations with non-United States Government funds if such services do not violate the laws of the country.”
President Ronald Reagan implemented the Global Gag Rule through an executive order; President Clinton rescinded the executive order; President George W. Bush reinstated the executive order; and President Obama rescinded it.