On Saturday, millions of women took to the streets around the world in protest. Their message was loud, and it was clear—women’s rights are human rights, and all elected officials should sit up and take notice that curtailing the rights of our nation’s and world’s most vulnerable people will not stand.
Yet today, Donald Trump and Mike Pence decided to use their first week in power to undermine women’s health, rights and security around the world by imposing the Global Gag Rule.
This means that, as of today, it is now illegal for any overseas health clinic that receives U.S. aid to even talk about abortion. The Gag Rule creates a major dilemma for foreign organizations that rely upon foreign aid to empower women with comprehensive sexual and reproductive health care and services. By “gagging” their ability to even discuss abortions—even though no U.S. aid can be used to provide them—it forces providers to censor how the advise patients or risk going bankrupt. Moreover, documentation by a consortium of NGO’s has found that abortion rates (resulting from decreased access to contraceptives) go up when the Global Gag Rule is in place. Not only does this policy result in outcomes that directly contradict it’s supposed aims (to make abortions rarer), it directly hurts women and families already living in some of the world’s poorest places.
Offering aid on conditions that reduce the quality of family planning programs makes it impossible for organizations working on the ground to effectively serve their communities. Several countries whose family planning assistance was severely cut due to the imposition of the Gag Rule have revised their population projections upward. Kenya is perhaps the most jarring example: before the Gag Rule, Kenya’s population in 2050 was projected to be 44 million. In the latest revision, however, that figure rose to 97 million. This example illustrates the time sensitive nature of compounding population growth. Each generation creates a larger base upon which the next generation grows.
It’s easy to see that this policy is both deeply damaging to individual women all over the globe AND to the well being of our entire planet. We know that the most effective way to slow global population growth is to ensure universal access to modern family planning methods. The Gag Rule deeply undermines the progress we’ve made towards smaller families and more productive, sustainable communities. If you’d like to take action to fight back against the imposition of the Global Gag Rule, sign our sister organization Population Connection Action Fund’s pledge here.