One day after the 44th anniversary of the Roe vs. Wade ruling, Trump, via an executive order, reinstated the ‘Mexico City Policy,’ also known as the Global Gag Order.
This policy, originally devised by Ronald Reagan, disallows US funding of any foreign nongovernmental institutions that provide information about abortion to women (to put it simply). If you’re not quite sure what that means, essentially the US cannot fund places in other countries that are similar Planned Parenthood here, for example. Clinton revoked it in the 90s, Bush brought it back, and Obama struck it down again in his first term, so this isn’t the first time we’ve heard about it.
But the simple fact is, this policy endangers women’s lives, especially the most vulnerable women in poorer countries that already have less access to healthcare and family planning, and does nothing to deter abortions. In fact, it may lead to more abortions.
First things first, we know that despite abortion being legal or not, abortion rates across the globe are fairly similar. In essence, countries that have outlawed abortions, and countries that have kept abortion legal, have comparable abortion rates.
What can we glean from this? Women will have abortion, whether it is legal or not. Anti-abortion laws do not deter abortions. Either we are going to offer safe abortions, or we are going to put women’s lives in danger. There is no in between.
This policy, however, is not directly attacking abortions abroad, but that’s the point: it’s indirectly (if not slyly) defunding institutions that very likely preform safe abortions, not just offer family planning services or women’s healthcare services. It’s important to note that no US government funding goes toward abortions. Past studies have found that after Bush reinstated the policy in 2001, it had crippling affects on these institutions around the world, causing some to close their doors permanently or drastically limit their services.
It’s strikingly similar to the US defunding its own Planned Parenthood: you’re not just taking away women’s access to safe abortions, you’re taking away women’s (and men’s) healthcare, sex education, and women’s safety.
If we “stand with PP,” we shouldn’t forget the other women of the world. We need to stand by them, as well, and their own family planning institutions. By reinstating this policy, we put their lives in danger, and in all honestly, may be causing more abortions around the world than decreasing them.
May the Force be with us.