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Ciku Kimeria
Writer, Adventurer, Development Consultant, Travelblogger
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piqer: Ciku Kimeria
Tuesday, 14 November 2017

The 'Global Gag Rule' And How It's Costing African Women Their Lives

When President Donald Trump got into office, one of the first things he did was reinstate the Reagan era policy banning U.S. funding to overseas health groups performing abortions. 

The previous iteration of the rule under George W. Bush applied exclusively to international family planning organizations and $0.6 billion in funding. Trump’s version has a pool of nearly $9 billion and cuts across all global health assistance; it will touch not only organizations that provide contraception, but also those that provide services for HIV and AIDS, the Zika virus, and malaria, among others.

The impact of this policy change is already being felt. In countries such as Ethiopia, organizations such as Marie Stopes are the only ones able to offer any affordable form of birth control options for poor, rural women — many of whom might have been married as teenagers, already have more children than they can take care of, and suffer from birth complications that threaten their lives every time they get pregnant. 

[Marie Stopes] has estimated that during Trump’s first term, re-enacting the Mexico City Policy in Ethiopia alone would result in service stoppages that could lead to over 67,000 unintended pregnancies, 62 maternal deaths, nearly 12,000 unsafe abortions, and nearly $6 million USD in lost funding.

The US has a long history of dictating what should happen in regards to reproductive rights both locally and abroad. In this case, the decision to reinstate the global gag rule will undo the progress that has been made by Ethiopia in reducing maternal deaths. Women such as Yeshi in the article now risk losing their lives having unplanned children as they are denied the tools to make decisions on their own fertility. 

"This is not just about sex, abortion, and contraception,” said Katja Iversen. “A woman’s ability to decide on her own fertility is the bedrock of gender equality and economic empowerment."
The 'Global Gag Rule' And How It's Costing African Women Their Lives
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