Mexico City Policy: One Year On

Kaushi Kogar Cambodia, News

One year after the reinstatement of the Mexico City Policy, reproductive choice is threatened for millions of women

Reinstated on 23 January 2017, the Mexico City Policy (also known as the Global Gag Rule) is a US Executive Order that prohibits any international organisation from receiving US Government funding if they provide or make referrals for abortion services – regardless of how those services are funded. Affecting all US global health funding, Trump’s Global Gag Rule is the most extreme ever, having been broadened to affect all global US health funding.

The harmful policy puts at risk women’s futures and lives by restricting their access to sexual and reproductive health services.

Women and girls who do not have access to contraception are at higher risk of having an unintended pregnancy. Women who have unintended pregnancies where safe abortion is not legal are more likely to expose themselves to death or disability through an unsafe abortion1.

Rather than reducing the number of abortions, the Mexico City Policy has been associated with increased abortion rates. Data from sub-Saharan African countries found abortion rates increasing noticeably after the previous Mexico City Policy was reinstated in 2001. With up to 13.2% of the world’s maternal deaths attributed to unsafe abortions2, this policy could have dire consequences for women globally3.

“One year in, we are just beginning to see the Global Gag Rule realise its true intention – which is not to reduce the incidence of abortion, but to drive it back underground. If the Trump Administration wanted there to be fewer abortions it would of course increase its support to family planning. Instead it has slashed funding” Chris Turner, our Regional Director Asia- Pacific at Marie Stopes International Australia.

The Impact of the Mexico City Policy

As a result of the reinstatement, we now face a AU$100m funding gap globally and we estimate that more than 2 million women will lose access to services of a Marie Stopes International-trained professional by 2020.
MSI estimates that the lack of services provided by these professionals alone as a result of US funding losses could lead to:

• 2.5 million unintended pregnancies
• 870,000 unsafe abortions
• 6,900 avoidable maternal deaths
• AU$185m in increased direct healthcare costs4

Worldwide, we have seen governments; institutions and individuals generously donate as a result of the reinstatement. However, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) was the largest provider of family planning assistance in the world and there is still a long way to go to bridge this unprecedented gap in the loss of funds.

In Cambodia, the Mexico City Policy has led to a 50% funding loss of for the MSI program. Ultimately, women like Lak Maksy who are receiving high quality family planning services will pay the price.

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