With the Donald Trump administration incurring a daily septic geyser filled with ridiculousness, nationalism, and abject betrayal of campaign promises, many issues are often buried under the sheer torrent of fecal matter. One of the first executive orders passed by President Trump was the Mexico-City Policy, or “Global Gag Rule”, which prohibited NGO’s from using federal funds for promoting, advocating and providing abortions overseas. It is also likely that many health organizations will give up working on contraception access, combating HIV/AIDS and family planning measures thanks to the newfound funding restrictions.
As with tax cuts and penis envy, every Republican President since Reagan has re-instated the order, and every Democratic President has rescinded it. Yet Trump, always one for adding-grease to poorly-made steaks, will apply the rule to not only organizations that provide family planning-funding, but also organizations that get global health funds in general. The Mexico City Policy will be most strongly felt in Sub-Saharan Africa where there is a lack of governmental action on demands pertaining to contraception and reproductive health due to minimal state resources.
As with most anti-abortion measures, the Global-Gag Rule is more of a systematic suppression of social mobility disguised as antiquated “moral-standards” rather than, as Tennessee Representative Diane Black believes, an act of “compassion.” In places like Kenya, the policy could mean an increase in unsafe abortions, the leading cause of maternal death in the country, and a net-loss of contraceptive access/measures, including a reduction in the ability to train public health-care workers for family planning. Often such family planning NGOs utilize abortion services as pathways for other programs such as HIV and GBV treatment. Based on the evidence, perhaps Representative Black ought to choose a different noun to describe the Mexico-City Policy. Try “virulent”, an adverb which Webster defines as “extremely poisonous or venomous.”
The Global Gag Rule is pure politics that, on a utilitarian level, will most likely provide far more physical damage to women and communities than any form of Family Research Council approved “morality.” It is easy for President Trump to pass a law that, on the outset, will help rally anti-abortion advocates to his cause and thus help secure a voting demographic for Election 2020. Yet as Carolyne Nduhiu, an obstetrician at the Marie Stopes International Eastleigh clinic states; “Look beyond America”, because “in Africa, Kenya, women will suffer. And there will be blood on his (Trump’s) hands.”
The Reagan-era Global Gag Rule is another example of the United States government’s war on women’s health and stifling of social mobility for the sake of upholding a restrictive “moral high ground”. While It is important to note that the policy won’t restrict abortions after sexual assault or to save a woman’s life, it is likely many NGO’s will still completely efface abortion and family planning measures from their overview. It may crack-down on involuntary sterilization and abortion in countries such as India, yet the reduction in access for vital maternal, reproductive and sexual health services far outweigh any potential benefits.
(featured image Wikimedia Commons-Collection of the New York Historical Society)