Tuesday, January 23rd, 2018

NGOs worlwide respond after Trump reinstates Mexico City Policy

Posted on February 03, 2017 in News
By USM Free Press

By: Johnna Ossie, Free Press News Editor

Just days into office, newly installed President Donald Trump reinstated a policy that bans international Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) receiving U.S. funding from providing abortion services, as well as from providing education or counseling to those seeking their services. The Mexico City Policy, often referred to as the global gag rule, hasn’t been in place since former President Barack Obama took office in 2009. The policy was reinstated almost immediately by President Trump.

Democratic and Republican presidents have been going back and forth over this policy for some time. The Mexico City Policy was first created by Ronald Reagan in 1984, was repealed under the Clinton administration, reinstated by the Bush administration and later repealed by the Obama administration. Outside of party lines, health care workers worry women’s lives are on the line.

Unsafe abortions are one of the top five leading causes of maternal death worldwide. According to the World Health Organization, 47,000 women die from complications of unsafe abortions each year. The Mexico City Policy would largely affect at-risk women living in some of the most impoverished parts of the world. Health care providers worldwide say a lack of funding for medical NGOs will affect thousands of international providers and their ability to give adequate care to women in many countries across the globe.

Doctors Without Borders (DWB)/Médecins Sans Frontières issued a statement on Wednesday, saying, “Where safe abortion care is not available, women and girls will put their lives at risk. When left with no safe options, they will resort to abortions carried out by untrained people or in environments lacking minimal medical standards.”

NGOs are unable to use foreign aid to pay for abortions, which has been the case since 1973 with the passing of the Helms amendment. The Mexico City Policy forbids NGOs from using not just international aid but also their own private funding to perform or provide information about abortions if they want to continue to receive U.S. aid. The loss of U.S. aid could threaten the entire organization.

Trump has stated he believes abortion should be banned in the United States. Trump drew criticism after comments made in an interview with Chris Matthews during his campaign, in which he stated that abortion should be banned, and that women should be punished for having abortions.

The Mexico City Policy would largely affect at-risk women living in some of the most impoverished parts of the world.

Thousands of anti-abortions supporters gathered in D.C. on Friday for an annual event called March for Life, which has taken place every year since the legalization of abortion in 1973. Mike Pence became the first sitting vice president to speak at the event in the decades it has been running. Trump tweeted that the anti-choice marchers have his full support, a stark contrast to his tweet regarding the Women’s March on Washington, which garnered the support of millions across the globe, to which he wrote “Watched protests yesterday but was under the impression that we just had an election! Why didn’t these people vote? Celebs hurt cause badly.”

Emma Donnelly, USM sophomore and president of the student group Huskies for Reproductive Health, believes that the global gag rule will not prevent women from getting abortions.

“The global gag rule will cause more abortions than it will prevent,” she said. “These abortions will be deadly, but if a woman does not want to be pregnant, she will do whatever it takes. I do not think they understand what it means to be forced to carry out a pregnancy for nine months and then give birth. The United States is supposed to be a world leader and protect other nations, yet we seem to be doing the exact opposite.”