Just how grave a threat unsafe abortion is for women is brought home in the data that 10 women die everyday in India. The country sees over 65 lakh pregnancy terminations every year. Unsafe abortion ranks as the third leading cause of maternal deaths in India. Hence access to safe abortion methods is critical to prevent these deaths.
In this context, the US President Donald Trump’s decision to bring back the Mexico City Policy, popularly called the Global Gag Rule, has major implications for women around the world, including India.
The Mexico City Policy is a US government policy that requires foreign NGOs to certify that they will not “perform or actively promote abortion as a method of family planning” with non-US funds as a condition for receiving US global family planning assistance. As of January 23, 2017, this includes any other US global health assistance, including HIV and maternal and child health (MCH).
The rule is a dangerous move against reproductive rights, as organizations will now have to choose between receiving American foreign assistance funds and providing comprehensive care. It dictates to foreign NGOs not just how American aid is to be used but also lays down that they must not spend their own money on providing abortion, and abortion-related services.
Poor or no access to contraception and safe abortion is a major public health crisis for women in the poor countries. The Global Gag Rule puts them in more danger as it puts them at risk of unsafe abortions. The policy change will lead to the withdrawal of aid set aside for contraceptive access as well as comprehensive abortion care worldwide.
Once again politics has prevailed, and with the stroke of a pen powerful men have decided the reproductive rights of millions of women across the gobe.This is a move that affect women’s health and endangers their rights and independence. And the impact is widespread and damaging as it is well documented that giving women control over their reproductive health, improves not just the health outcomes of mothers and children but is key to economic progress.