Mexico City Policy will have a devastating impact for International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) with its extension far beyond family planning. Restrictions into support for HIV, maternal health and infectious diseases programmes will mean that millions will be denied lifesaving healthcare they need. The policy will hit hardest, the women living at the margins of society – the poorest, the most remote and those under 25.
The Global Gag Rule, also known as the Mexico City Policy, denies US funding to organizations who provide any abortion related services, including counselling, even when such services are legal in a national context.
IPPF has a special focus on working with the world’s most poor and vulnerable and tailoring services to meet their needs. At country levels, the US funding loss will reduce or halt IPPF’s services and arrest opportunities to scale up, build capacity and reach more people.
Tewodros Melesse, IPPF Director General, said in reaction,
“For over 30 years, the Mexico City Policy has played politics with women’s lives. It is a cynical attempt to silence the choice and voice of the world’s poorest women. As a champion for them and people everywhere, we will not be held back.
"This extended policy covers every aspect of IPPF’s work with the world's poorest people. It also fails in its stated intent to reduce the global incidence of abortion. With the expansion of its restrictions to work on broader health efforts it is short-sighted and dangerous, and threatens years of IPPF gains to advance the health and well-being of communities and undercuts health care access for millions worldwide.”
The extended policy will now affect IPPF’s long record of working on HIV prevention in more than 20 countries covering Africa and Latin America often providing clients integrated sexual and reproductive health care services.
The Global Gag rule could also endanger emergency funding for Zika prevention, education and health services in Latin America and the Caribbean, where the epidemic continues to rage.
Examples of Country Impact:
Barbados: IPPF partner Barbados Family Planning Association receives funding from the U.S. government to provide HIV prevention and education services to at-risk, hard-to-reach populations including men who have sex with men. The Caribbean has the second-highest HIV prevalence rate among adults after Sub-Saharan Africa.
Nepal: IPPF aims to increase voluntary use of family planning services by increasing accessibility and availability of quality comprehensive family planning services to the hard to reach, disadvantaged, poor and adolescent populations in 11 districts and increase access to voluntary family planning information, education, and services. Nepal has failing and patchy family planning coverage which is often only available at certain times of the year. IPPF are working closely with the government to expand and strengthen static clinics in selected district hospitals, health posts and health facilities with birthing centers to reach all year round, reaching eligible couples with high unmet need.
Malawi: The Family Planning Association of Malawi are providing much needed integrated family planning and HIV prevention to young adolescent and women in Malawi via clinics and outreach teams travelling to communities to raise awareness and offer services for vulnerable young women to prevent and treat sexual gender based violence, HIV infection and access to family planning. Without funding they will no longer be able to provide or expand this vital information, support community learning and offer both family planning services and treatment for sexual and gender based violence in one place.
The rule blocks critical funding for health services like contraception, maternal health, and HIV prevention and treatment for any organization that refuses to sign up to it.
For IPPF, it means foregoing US$100,000,000 that would be directed to proven programmes that provide comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services for millions of women and girls who would otherwise go without vital services that save lives.
IPPF is the world’s largest women’s health network with members in 170 countries with over 45,000 service delivery points delivering over 300 services a minute. Individuals can donate to IPPF’s online appeal www.ippf.org/donate
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