In case you missed it – one of President Trump’s first order of business was to re-enact the Mexico City Policy. Or as we in the sexual and reproductive health community un-affectionately call it - the Global Gag Rule (GGR).
With a stroke of his pen – and may I mention surrounded by men in suits - Trump doubled down on women and girls' most basic human rights. Now, millions of women and girls will not have the right to choice – placing them at risk of unsafe abortion, maternal death and denying their basic human rights of accessing life-saving contraception.
The GGR will have far reaching consequences on the health and lives of women and girls, and will go beyond their right to access safe abortion.
In Africa, Asia and Latin America the ability for women and girls to access life-saving contraception will be compromised. US-donated contraceptives will be reduced and even eliminated, clinics and community health services may have to close their doors, and already fragile national health systems will be compromised.
Here are 3 ways that Trump’s Global Gag Rule will impact on contraception in particular.
- It further exacerbates a growing global contraceptive funding gap. By 2020, the world will be facing a funding gap estimated at US173 million. Sufficient investment is not being prioritized for contraceptives at the global, national and subnational level. The US is the largest bilateral donor to family planning. Any reduction in political and financial commitment will have an impact on filling the funding gap. And we are concerned that this will lead to contraceptive stockouts – or women and girls leaving clinics empty handed.
- More will need to come out of pocket from women and girls in developing countries. While traditional donor funding is changing and diversifying, national governments need to invest more in family planning services and contraceptive supplies. Yet, contraceptives remain underfunded and a significant proportion is covered by individual through out of pocket expenses. Individual women and girls, including those that are poor and marginalized, will need to cover a substantial proportion of funding for contraceptives.
- We cannot take for granted that donor support to contraception alone will increase the availability of contraceptives. Investment and support is required for better supply chain management, and efficiencies in managing contraceptive security. Civil society organizations – like IPPF’s nationally-owned Member Associations – are instrumental in strengthening national and community contraceptive supplies processes and systems.
Without contraceptives, there are no programmes. And without contraceptives, the Sustainable Development Goals and ambition of Universal Health Coverage will not be achieved as women and girls are denied to the means to prevent unwanted pregnancy. All people – women, men and young people - have the right to choose whether or not, how and when, to have children. 2017 is a pivotal moment, and we cannot be complacent. We must unite and be unwavering in our commitment to uphold the rights of women and girls.