Global Gag Reflex?!
10 things you need to know about the global gag rule!
1. How GGR came to be
The Mexico City Policy was first introduced in 1984 by the then President of United States Ronald Reagan. Ever since, The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has either reinforced or rescinded the policy under the leadership of every President. All of the Republican administrations have enforced the Mexico City Policy, most recent one being republican president Donald Trump. On the other hand, all the Democratic administrations have rescinded the policy, with President Barack Obama having done so most recently during his eight years of presidency.
2. Basic built up of the GGR
The ‘Mexico City Policy,’ better known as the ‘Global Gag Rule’ is a United States government policy which prevents NGOs that provide abortion related services and/or counselling, any access to U.S. federal funding. The rule forces organisations to choose between either providing the much needed comprehensive sexual & reproductive health care without any U.S. funding or complying with the policy in order to accept financial aid from U.S. government. In other words, any organisations that provide abortion related services or even mere counselling about termination of pregnancy, forfeit their access to US government funding.
3. How does it restrict essential health care
When we talk about US government funding, we are talking about BILLIONS OF DOLLARS! The Global Gag rule in reality increases the number of unsafe abortions instead of reducing abortions. As many healthcare providers lose access to US funding, they are forced to reduce staff or even shut down. People in the affected areas especially women are hence stripped of their access to contraceptives which leads to an increase in the number of unwanted pregnancies.
As the healthcare providers have to survive without US funding, services other than abortion and contraception are also adversely affected. Developing countries are most affected by this policy due to shortage of their own funding.
4. Donald following Ronald’s footsteps, made it worse.
Donald Trump as the 45th president of United Stated took office on january 20th, 2017. On January 23, 2017, in one of his first acts as President he, reinstated and expanded the Global Gag Rule. As it stands currently, the rule targets international organizations that work on any programs funded by U.S. global health assistance — including programs to expand access to contraception, prevent and treat HIV/AIDS, combat malaria, and improve maternal and child health.
In other words, organisation cannot get funding from US for any of their programs if even one or any of these programs even discuss abortion with patients. Hence- The GAG rule!!
To make the matters worse, this new and expanded gag rule also denies funding to NGOs who collaborate or receive another set of funding from organisations that provide abortion services. If I work with an organisation that provides abortion related services or receive funding from them for one of my healthcare programs which is not at all related to abortion, I forfeit my claim to US federal funding all the same due to my association with an organisation who provides MTP services. Small NGOs hence either have to give up their association/funding with such organisations or give up US federal funding.
5. Aftermath= Increase in number of unsafe abortions.
Let us get one thing clear, there is no such thing is ‘no abortion’. There are only ‘safe abortions’ and ‘unsafe abortions’.
If we look at the term ‘UNWANTED PREGNANCY’ doesn’t it become clear that this is something that the woman doesn’t want? By restricting access to safe abortion, the women who wish to terminate their pregnancies have to look for other ways to terminate their pregnancy. As this policy literally gags NGOs (and doctors and nurses working with them) from even talking abortions, the women in the dependant area (mostly developing countries) go to the “back alley” to get abortions. These unsafe abortions very often can and do result in the death of the women.
Women who don’t want abortion are not going to surrender to “motherhood” just because they don’t have access to safe medical care to terminate the pregnancy. Lack of access to safe and legal abortions is going to result in women swinging themselves down the staircase or even shoving coat hangers in the uterus in an attempt to terminate the pregnancy.
Do these procedures sound safe to you?
6. No discrimination while discriminating
As previously discussed, this policy not only affects the abortion services but also adversely affects other healthcare services. Contraceptive aids, HIV/AIDS affect all people but unsafe abortions and lack of abortion services only ‘kills’ women. Eliminating conversations around abortion and preventing its access is a way of denying women’s autonomy over their bodies. Mexico City Policy literally introduces global politics into women’s uterus.
Even though this policy is discriminatory towards women, it doesn’t consider any exceptions within the gender. Irrespective of the reason behind abortion, this policy implies to every single case.
An NGO that discussed or provided abortion to a rape victim or medically endangered pregnancy, will forfeit the funding all the same.
7. Need to trash GGR
“The global gag rule is undermining our nation’s legacy as a leader and innovator in global health. The global health funding the U.S. provides to countries around the world should be used as a tool to expand people’s access to care, not restrict it.”
– Planned Parenthood Action Fund.
Other than all the reasons discussed above, this policy is harmful to the world we live in. It allows government to take your most personal decisions instead of you. By promoting policies like this one, we are taking a step back. This Policy is in direct contradiction with the human rights and the ideology of freedom.
8. Administrative explanation for enforcing GGR.
The explanation behind GGR is that US federal fund is tax payers’ money and many of the citizens are who are anti-abortion, do not want their money being used for supporting such cause. The Mexico City Policy’s motives are parallel with that of Hyde Amendment. In US politics, the Hyde Amendment is a legislative provision barring the use of federal funds to pay for abortion except to save the life of the woman, or if the pregnancy arises from incest or rape. The difference between the two is that Hyde Amendment at the least recognises exceptions for cases of rape and incest. Hyde Amendment was introduced in 1997. The entire explanation for enforcing The Mexico City Policy, rests on conscientious objection that tax payers who do not support abortion should not have to fund NGOs for the same, directly or indirectly.
The government is not using tax payers money to support causes that many of them do not support on moral level.
9. Objection to the conscientious objections.
The major contradiction with the administrative explanation for enforcing GGR, is that while honouring the wishes of part of the population who doesn’t want their tax money being used for abortion support, the government is conveniently ignoring the rest of the population who doesn’t object to their tax money being used for abortion health care.
Another major contradiction can be seen with selectivity of the administration regarding human rights, Administration says to believe that the tax payers should not be forced to pay money towards a cause that they do not support on a moral ground, but at the same time the administration creates barriers that take away a women’s autonomy over her own body. If the administration chooses to follow a rights-based approach when it comes to utilising the tax money, then how come the same administration denies the rest of the world even the most basic human rights?
If I don’t support democracy will I be allowed not to pay taxes as I morally do not support it?
10. Why you should support safe abortion rights
One simple reason: you should support an individual to make their own choices and practice autonomy. It is not your uterus and you don’t have to face the consequences of the pregnancy, hence your morals and your beliefs have no standing in that decision.