Politics · Wear Your Voice Magazine · Women

The Revived Global Gag Rule is Already Endangering Lives in India

*First published by Wear Your Voice Magazine, May 4, 2017.*

The results of the Global Gag Rule would be disastrous for thousands of women in India, not to mention how it affects India’s sovereignty, since abortion is a women’s right there.

We’ve known for some time, even before he won the Electoral College, that Donald Trump is bad for women.

He’s an admitted sexual predator who used his position of power as owner of various beauty pageants to spy on women and young teenage girls in “his” changing rooms. His ex-wife Ivana testified under oath that Trump raped her after a hair implant surgery didn’t go as painlessly as he expected; her testimony was published in Harry Hurt III’s The Lost Tycoon.

He brags about being famous and how that allows him to grab women “by the pussy” without consent. He has “joked” about being sexually attracted to his own daughter. He has been accused by at least a dozen women of sexual harassment and assault. It should be no surprise then that he’s not only bad for the women in his close physical proximity, he’s bad for women in general.

On January 23, 2017 — after just three days in office — Trump issued an executive order, “Presidential Memorandum Regarding the Mexico City Policy,” that not only reintroduces certain policies regarding abortion that previous Republican administrations have upheld, but also dangerously expands these restrictions. The Mexico City Policy states that international organizations receiving U.S. federal funding will “neither perform nor actively promote abortion as a method of family planning in other nations.

The Mexico City Policy, also called the Global Gag Rule, was first put into law in 1984 by Ronald Reagan and aims to block federal funding for NGOs around the world that provide any kid of abortion services, from performing them to even discussing them as a family planning alternative. President Bill Clinton rescinded the presidential order in 1993, George Bush the Second reinstated it in 2001, and President Obama rescinded it in 2009. Women’s reproductive rights are a game of ping-pong to male lawmakers, eh? *Insert timely reference to The Handmaid’s Tale here*

Related: What the Trump Resistance Can Learn From Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale”

In India, non-governmental organizations providing health care and family planning services for lowest-income women have been asked by USAID to submit statements certifying that:

“Organization does not provide abortion services, counsel or refer for abortion, or advocate for the liberalization of abortion laws with US Govt. or non-US Govt. funds, including its own funds.”

This means that even if an NGO is using funds secured from somewhere other than the U.S. government to assist with any abortion-related encounter, including the mere counseling about whether or not a woman should consider this due to health issues for her or the fetus, they would no longer be eligible to receive those funds. Abortion has been legal in India since 1971 — so long as they take place before the 20th week, and are even provided for free in many government-run hospitals and medical centers. This doesn’t always mean that women have access to these centers for a number of reasons, which leads to women getting the procedure done under dangerous conditions. For Scroll.In, Menaka Rao writes:

“Critics of the global gag rule have long said that you cannot separate abortion services from maternal healthcare, family planning and women’s health, all of which will be badly affected.”

The results would be disastrous for thousands of women in India, not to mention how the Gag Rule also affects India’s own national sovereignty, since abortion is a women’s right there. And this is just the start of troubles for millions of women around the world as Trump’s new and even more draconian version of the Gag Rule goes into effect.

It’s not just a war on American women. Trump, on behalf of the American Taliban, I mean Republican Party, has defunded Planned Parenthood through yet another of his executive orders. But the war on women waged by the United States government is once again global. Human Rights Watch (HRW) predicts these horrendous side effects, such as undermining health care progress as a whole; less contraceptive access leading to more unwanted pregnancies and abortions; an increase in maternal mortality; decreasing services for children’s health, including vaccinations and treatment of diseases like malaria, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS; and limiting free speech that could save the lives of women and their children.

In its press release unpacking how dreadful Trump’s plan will be for women worldwide, Human Rights Watch says:

“Women and girls have a human right — protected under international law — to make their own choices about whether, when and how many children they have. Unintended pregnancies can affect a range of other rights, including by ending a girl’s education, contributing to child marriage, resulting in health complications, or putting a woman’s life at risk.”

In the same press release, Human Rights Watch notes that the HER Act is draft legislation on the table in the U.S. that would permanently annul this anti-woman, anti-life, and anti-choice policy. But it comes with a caveat, according to Human Rights Watch:

“While it is highly unlikely to be adopted under the current administration, it has been gathering increased support and could be pursued as a long-lasting solution down the road.”

Warriors and Resistors, add this to your ever-growing action item list. Women’s reproductive rights are human rights, whether at home or abroad.