There was good news out of the Guttmacher Institute in July: Namely, that despite the fact that the number of women of reproductive age in the developing world continues to grow by an estimated 12 million every year, the number of women who have an unmet need for family planning in those regions has decreased from 225 million to 214 million since 2014. That’s due to the increased use of contraception among women who had an unmet need just three years ago.
The report outlines what we could achieve with an increased investment in international family planning (from the current $6.3 billion a year to the target of $11.9 billion — from all sources: developing country governments, development assistance, etc.):
- Unintended pregnancies would decline from 89 million to 22 million,
- unplanned births would decline from 30 million to 7 million, and
- abortions would decline from 48 million to 13 million.
But instead of investing more in international family planning, the Trump administration is taking funding away, and placing expanded restrictions on which organizations can receive our aid, based on whether they acknowledge abortion as an option.
By cutting all funding to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), which provides family planning and other crucial reproductive healthcare to people in over 150 countries, the United States sent a message to the world that we care more about erroneous accusations of participation in coercive programs in China than we care about people’s lives — or the truth.
And by imposing an expanded version of the Global Gag Rule on all foreign global health organizations, potentially affecting up to $8.8 billion, we are telling organizations abroad that we don’t trust them to provide the care that’s right for the patients they see in their own countries, with their own funding, and within their own laws.
This issue of Population Connection magazine takes a look at some of the effects — international and also domestic — that Trump’s callous policies are having on real people around the world. From a woman in California who will have to drive to Mexico to get timely reproductive healthcare if the Planned Parenthood clinic in her town loses funding to the women in the largest slum in sub-Saharan Africa who won’t have access to any healthcare at all if their provider is refused U.S. funding, the stories you will read in the pages ahead will likely disappoint, embarrass, and infuriate you.
I urge you to take that disappointment, embarrassment, and fury and turn it into action. Ask misguided (or misogynistic) members of Congress why they support the Global Gag Rule and the ban on funding to UNFPA over the phone or at their next town hall. Demand that they explain what poor people in this country are supposed to do if the Title X family planning program for low-income Americans is cut. Or how we’ll continue to make gains in reducing teen pregnancy rates if the federal Teen Pregnancy Prevention program is eliminated. And make sure to ask them how any of those measures is pro-life, if that’s their bogus justification.
We will not allow the anti-woman zealots in Congress — or the White House — to get away with imposing these horrible policies without exposing them for what they really are: cowards, hypocrites, and reprobates.