Marie Stopes International: Mexico City Policy (‘Global Gag Rule’) will prevent us reaching 1.5 million women with contraception every year
Marie Stopes International warns that women in developing countries will pay the price for the Mexico City Policy (sometimes called the ‘Global Gag Rule’), with thousands more maternal deaths every year.
The Mexico City Policy, re-enacted today on 'Day One' of President Trump’s term of office, demands that all non-US international organisations in receipt of US Government funding neither perform nor ‘actively promote’ abortion. This effectively means NGOs forfeit all US aid if they so much as tell a woman abortion is a legal option in her country, refer her to another provider or advocate for abortion rights with their own alternative resources.
Marie Stopes International knows that safe abortion is a vital component of women’s reproductive healthcare, and therefore we cannot agree to these conditions. As a result, our organisation will be prohibited from receiving any new funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) so long as the Executive Order is in place.
USAID is currently the world’s largest bilateral donor in family planning and has transformed the lives of women and girls in developing countries by expanding access to voluntary contraception. In 2017, USAID funding would have helped us reach 1.5 million women in some of the poorest, most underserved countries in the world.
We estimate that without alternative funding, the loss of our services during Trump’s first term, between 2017 and 2020, could result in:
“All the medical evidence, as well as everything we know from our daily interactions with women, is unequivocal: if you take safe abortion services out of the reproductive healthcare package, it exposes women to risk.
“Every year, 21.6 million women are so desperate to end their pregnancy they put their lives on the line by risking an unsafe abortion[ii]. Thousands of them die and millions more are left with life altering injuries[iii]. Agreeing to the Mexico City Policy would mean accepting their fate and turning our backs on the very women who need us most.”
Tragically, the policy will have the exact opposite effect to the one that is intended. By blocking funding to the world’s largest NGO providers of modern contraception, it will reduce women’s ability to prevent unplanned pregnancy. A 2011 study found that abortion rates in sub-Saharan African countries actually increased while the Mexico City Policy was in force under President Bush[iv]. The impact of its re-enactment today will be no less devastating, seriously reducing the impact of US development assistance for family planning in some of the world’s poorest countries.
“Attempts to stop abortion through restrictive laws - or by withholding family planning aid - will never work, because they do not eliminate women’s need for abortion. This policy only exacerbates the already significant challenge of ensuring that people in the developing world who want to time and space their children can obtain the contraception they need to do so.
“It denies people the right to make choices that could improve their living conditions, from the girl who could have avoided an unwanted pregnancy and continued her education, to the mother of five who could have averted the life-threatening risk of an unsafe abortion. The impact of the Mexico City Policy will be catastrophic and it is women in developing countries who will pay the price.”
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First imposed by President Ronald Reagan in 1984, the Mexico City Policy withholds USAID funding from any non US organisation that offers abortion services — even just information or referrals — with their own funds. The policy, sometimes known as the Global Gag Rule, was later rescinded by President Clinton, reinstated by President Bush, and rescinded again by President Obama.
Marie Stopes International is a global organisation providing personalised contraception and safe abortion services to women and girls. Our local teams of professionals are passionate about the work they do in communities across 37 countries. The high quality services they provide give a woman the power to choose if and when she has children so that she’s free to pursue her plans and dreams for herself and her family.
[i] Figures calculated using Marie Stopes International’s peer-reviewed Impact 2 Model:
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