Bush's Global Gag Rule fails women
From the International Planned Parenthood Federation:
At a landmark hearing today in Washington, a former IPPF Executive Director from Ghana testified that denying women and men family planning services in developing countries increases the risk of unwanted pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections, including HIV and AIDS, and unsafe abortions.
Today, the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs held its first hearing in over a decade to discuss the negative impact the Global Gag Rule/Mexico City Policy – a policy the George W. Bush reinstated on his first day in office in 2001 – has had on family planning and the reproductive health of women, men and young people in developing countries. The Global Gag Rule states that no U.S. family planning assistance can be given to foreign non-governmental organizations that perform, promote, counsel or even refer women for abortion.
Joana Nequaye-Tetteh, former Executive Director of the Planned Parenthood Association of Ghana (PPAG) at the time of the Global Gag Rule, testified to the dramatic impact upon people’s lives in over 20 rural communities when PPAG lost USAID funding for critical sexual and reproductive health services. New data collected by PPAG show that, following the loss of funding, there was a huge reduction in family planning and reproductive health services and a rise in unsafe abortion, largely due to the loss of contraceptive services to these communities.
Mrs. Nerquaye-Tetteh explained: “I personally witnessed the destructive impact the Gag Rule had on our programs and on the clients we serve. By telling the story of Planned Parenthood of Ghana I can give voice to those people most affected – women and girls – who will never have the opportunity to address American legislators who have had such a dramatic impact on their lives when they created regulations like the Gag Rule. The experience of PPAG mirrors the experience of IPPF around the world.”
Mrs Nerquaye-Tetteh went on to describe the very real effect the Gag Rule has had on the people of Ghana: “We will never know the real cost of this harmful policy; we can never know the total number of lives that have been irreversibly altered: a sexually transmitted infection or maybe even HIV that could have been prevented, a poor rural mother that could have received quality prenatal care to help her survive a pregnancy and deliver a healthy baby, a woman that could have avoided an unwanted pregnancy and therefore not sought an unsafe abortion and had to deal with its related complications.”
The Director General of IPPF, Gill Greer, said: "The Gag Rule has undermined decades of work to strengthen health systems in the developing world by reducing services and programs in so many countries. We thank the US House Committee on Foreign Affairs for taking this first step in looking into the effects this US-policy has had on the poor and marginalized women and men of the world."
Ultimately, it is hoped that the US Congress will recommend resuming the flow of U.S.-donated contraceptives to local family planning providers overseas. As Mrs. Nerquaye-Tetteh said in her concluding comments: “This will make a vast and immediate difference to the lives of women. Planned Parenthood Association of Ghana could resume community outreach programs to the rural poor – and thousands could be reached. In our experience, the increase in contraceptive provision would dramatically and directly reduce unwanted pregnancies and avert unsafe abortion – thereby saving women’s and mother’s lives.”