Rescinding the Mexico City Policy

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The Mexico City Policy, also commonly known as the “Global Gag Rule,” was first introduced in 1985 during the Reagan administration and has been rescinded by most Democratic presidents and reinstated by most Republican presidents since then. This policy was most recently reinstated by President Trump, and prohibits foreign NGOs that receive US government funding from performing abortions, providing counseling and information on abortions as a method of family planning, or promoting any changes in a country’s legislation regarding abortion. The Trump administration’s reinstatement, however, does not apply only to family planning assistance. It expands to limit all U.S. global health funding, including global HIV and maternal child health (MCH) assistance.

Many organizations, including Marie Stopes International, Doctors Without Borders, Population Action International, and International Planned Parenthood Federation, have released statements in opposition to the Global Gag Rule. Foreign governments have also stepped forward, with some creating international funds or pledging money in an effort to fill the funding gap. While these are a good start, we need greater mobilization to fight for women’s health and empowerment.

Unsafe abortion is one of the main causes of maternal mortality worldwide, and disproportionately affects women in low- and middle-income countries and in vulnerable contexts such as refugee camps and conflict zones. Research has shown that policies preventing providers from educating women about abortion and family planning methods lead to more unwanted pregnancies, more unsafe abortions, and higher rates of STIs. This policy also threatens progress on many other fronts, such as HIV, child malaria, tuberculosis, and immunizations. Healthcare providers, public health professionals, and all concerned citizens need to speak out for global reproductive rights, support international aid organizations, and push Trump and US Congress for the repeal of the Mexico City Policy.

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2 Responses to “Rescinding the Mexico City Policy”

  1. mpinedo1 Says:

    I really appreciate the timely nature of this issue. While I admit it was an issue I hear about and discussed only on a very superficial level, reading through this post and the hyperlinks associated have helped update my knowledge and better inform my opinions.

    I do not agree with this Global Gag Rule and believe that it is policy that should remain rescinded. I find it very interesting that abortion rates in sub-Saharan Africa have risen, but not due to the fact that foreign NGOs have accepted US funding and have restricted their involvement with abortions, but because they have refused US funding, which has not limited their resources and therefore limited family planning resources, contraceptives, and other reproductive health services. Fortunately, there are other countries in the world that do not agree with this American policy and have since increased their financial support of foreign NGOs. Not long after President Trump’s administration announced their reinstatement of the Global Gag Rule, Canada announced they would donate $20 million to mitigate the funding gap. Additionally, Norway and the Netherlands had both committed to support this cause, along with Canada, at £10 million each. I think it is great that other countries have stepped up to counteract some actions of the American government.

  2. shkhaiat Says:

    Thank you for posting about this topic. I find this gag rule absolutely outrageous and not thoughtful on so many levels. I try not to comment here with the perspective of a woman and talk about the harms that this rule will impose on women’s rights and how it questions their existence as humans. This gag not only undermines the autonomy of women in this country but I also started to think that it also questions the autonomy of citizens in other countries. These countries often need the assistance and it looks like to me that U.S. is offering theirs as long as they agree to play by their rules.

    I volunteered with an NGO as a women’s health and counselor and I know that these NGOs try to implement the family planning program, contraceptives, and reproductive health services in regions and area where they need these programs the most due to lack of resources for the most part, poor sanitation, overpopulation, and absolute absence of knowledge and education about reproductive health. From a health standpoint, birth control is not the only purpose of the contraceptives. STIs used to be highly prevalent in the community I worked at and most of the people were not even aware that they had it. This diseases not only affect the women who carry them but also if remain untreated they will cause major developmental defects in their babies during pregnancy or illnesses during birth. Some women might opt for abortion after finding out about their condition because they find out about the adverse side effects their babies might be born with and they cannot undergo the financial burden of taking care of them.

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