The medical journal The Lancet released a study on Thursday examining the impact of the global gag rule, officially known as the Mexico City Policy, on the rate of abortions in sub-Saharan Africa. Researchers discovered that rather than decrease the amount of abortions as anti-choice advocates advertised, the policy increased abortion rates by approximately forty percent when the gag rule was in place.
The study compared the periods when the global gag rule was not in place under Presidents Clinton and Obama to the period when the rule was in place under President Bush. It discovered that providers of family planning services would often not be able to comply with the United States’ standards and thus, would lose their funding. This would cause them to be unable to provide other necessary services such as contraception. Contraception use decreased by 14 percent and the amount of pregnancies increased by 12 percent. Due to the increased number of unplanned pregnancies, many individuals had to get abortions, leading to the 40 percent increase.
As a response to the increased attempts to enforce the anti-choice agenda, the House passed a spending bill this June that included a repeal of both the domestic gag rule and the global gag rule. This is a part of a widespread effort by the pro-choice movement to expand access to reproductive services domestically and worldwide.
The Trump administration has implemented the global gag rule as a method to further their control over people’s bodies through banning international aid for any services that provide abortion care or any information about abortion services. This administration has expanded the scope of the rule: the funding ban will now not just apply to international non-governmental organizations (NGO) that provide or refer patients to abortion; it will also ban U.S. global health funding to any NGO that uses non-U.S. assistance to support any foreign partners who separately engage in abortion-related work with their own funding.
Media resources: Feminist Newswire 3/27/19; Refinery 29 6/19/19; NPR 6/27/19; The Lancet 6/27/19