What is Global Gag Rule? Global Gag Rule is a United States government policy that blocks US federal funding for NGOs that provide abortion counselling or referrals, advocate to decriminalise abortion or expand abortion services. It is also called as Mexico City Policy, named for Mexico City, the venue of the United Nations International Conference on Population where it was announced, the policy was instituted by U.S. President Ronald Reagan in 1984.
For the past couple of decades, whenever Republicans have been elected they’ve typically reinstated the Gag Rule, and when power passes to Democrats, they usually lift it again. Trump not only reinstated the policy but expanded it, making it cover all global health organizations that receive U.S. government funding, rather than only family planning organizations that do, as was previously the case.
-Supporters of the policy have argued, using the example of the Philippines, that the ban prevents overseas health organizations from using U.S. government funds to contravene the contraception and abortion laws of the countries in which they operate.
- Supporters also argue that the policy prevents the health agencies from promoting abortion at the expense of other birth control methods.
How it impacts Women Rights and health services? In its new format it will not only hamper family planning efforts but other health related services also. As per new rules a civil society organization providing TB, malaria related services along with family planning services will not be able to access funding for its TB< malaria programme also. Whereas earlier funding for its family planning service would have been stopped if provided any help related to abortion. US is the single largest bilateral funder for family planning programs in the world. Some of the money goes to the United Nations, but it’s mostly for civil society, many of those groups work on safe abortions, as well as contraception and HIV. The order hit wider civil society programmes, such as contraception provision and campaigns to combat HIV/AIDS.
- The Global Gag Rule restricts people’s right to make informed health decisions, as well as harms the health and lives of poor women by making it more difficult to access family planning services. Women’s autonomy over her body is violated by the order.
- Also it unnecessarily burdens women for pregnancy – especially in case of unwanted, because only women will have to suffer and not the men and thus indirectly re-inforces inequality.
-An unwanted pregnancy can mean intense personal hardship, adverse health outcomes, and even death — 830 women die each day from pregnancy or child-birth-related complications, the vast majority of whom live in the developing world.
- A 2011 Stanford University study, published in the Bulletin of the World Health Organization, examined the impact of a previous iteration of the Trump Global Gag Rule in 20 African countries. It found that the policy was strongly “associated with increases in abortion rates in sub-Saharan African countries.” Because of reduction in family planning services.
- Aid workers, academics and activists warn that it could also bolster political opposition to women’s reproductive rights as any advocacy work which supports abortion will be affected.
- It will affect the education campaigns, research work which is being carried by various NGOs in the area.
- With access to safe abortion reduced, it will increase the instances where women go for unsafe abortion and it increases the risks of maternal mortality.
-Developing countries on South America, Africa and South Asia are expected to be the most affected by the policy.
-Instance of cultural colonialism: American religious values, by way of the Global Gag Rule, will be imposed on countries as far flung as Kenya and Peru, Ethiopia and Nepal. Since 1994, 34 countries have liberalized their abortion laws, the gag order imposes American values on these countries.
-Critics also argue that the ban promotes restrictions on free speech as well as restrictions on accurate medical information. In all the debate surrounding Global Gag Rule is that women right over her body has been treated like a football, with Democrats and Republicans kicking the law as per their moral values, rather than on rationality and scientific principles. As a result of this lives of million women continue to suffer across countries. There is a need for countries, NGOs to come together and respect women’s rights over her body and stop being guided by the policies of one country