By executive order, President Trump reinstated the “global gag rule," defunding international family-planning organizations that provide abortion-related services, referrals, or even information—whether or not those specific services are funded by the U.S. In fact, U.S. funds have never been used to pay for abortions as a method of family planning; that's illegal under the 1973 Helms Amendment.
Sometimes known as the Mexico City Policy because it was first introduced there by President Reagan in 1984, the rule comes at a high cost. As a result of defunding these critical services, there will be an estimated additional 2.2 million abortions worldwide, 2.1 million of which will now be unsafe, and 21,700 pregnant women will die in Trump’s first term. Additionally, reproductive health is a point of entry into the health care system for many women, making it a vital first step to receiving comprehensive care.
Unlike U.S. organizations that can currently separate funding streams, international organizations will lose all funding if they even counsel on abortion under the gag rule.
Reproductive health is a point of entry into the health care system for women around the world; the elimination of these programs would deny many women their first step to receiving the comprehensive care they need.
This executive order, along with vows by the president and leaders in Congress to defund Planned Parenthood, raises additional fears regarding the reproductive rights of women globally and nationally, as do the growing number of anti-choice laws at the state level. This is acutely alarming for LGBT Americans who need equal access to contraceptives and abortion services but often face heightened barriers to accessing quality care.
In the U.S., Monday’s action is an important sign of what’s to come under the new administration. Along with attacks on and plans to defund Planned Parenthood and increased anti-choice laws at the state level, the rule sends a message of looming rollbacks to U.S. reproductive rights, particularly those favoring so-called religious objections.
That message is acutely alarming for LGBT Americans who need equal access to contraceptives and abortion services but often face heightened barriers to access. All LGBT-identified people who could become pregnant are at risk for an unintended pregnancy. Studies suggest pregnancy is more common among lesbian, gay, bisexual youth than their heterosexual counterparts. Moreover, lesbian and bisexual women are often at higher risk of sexual assault due in part to their sexual orientation, which may also result in an unplanned pregnancy.
Access to comprehensive sexual and reproductive health care is vital to the LGBT community, in particular as it relates to pregnancy, STDs, and HIV. Monday’s actions hurt our global community and are indicative of impending threats to LGBT Americans. Monday’s action is about life, specifically about the increased harm and threat to the well-being of millions of LGBT lives.
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January 24, 2017