Imagine this: You’re a health care provider in a nation that receives foreign aid from the United States, and your patient has experienced an unplanned pregnancy. The patient knows they want an abortion, but you can’t talk about abortion, provide counseling or offer a referral — otherwise you’ll jeopardize your clinic’s funding.
That’s the reality under the Mexico City Policy, also known as the Global Gag Rule. Republican presidents have been slapping this policy on recipients of foreign ai d since 1984, with Democrats reversing the order almost as soon as they get into office.
This back-and-forth dance imperils foreign aid for organizations providing assistance to people in developing nations all over the world — and it’s about nothing more than imposing ideology.
Let’s be clear: This isn’t an executive order mandating that foreign aid from the United States can’t be used for abortions, although that would be bad enough. It also wouldn’t be necessary, because the Helms Amendment already bars the use of foreign aid for this purpose.
Instead, the Global Gag Rule mandates that entities receiving aid from the United States cannot perform abortions, period — even if the funds to provide them come from other sources. Health care providers also can’t discuss abortion with patients in the course of pregnancy counseling, nor can they refer patients to facilities that provide abortions. Technically, there are supposed to be exceptions for rape and incest, but those tend to be more theoretical than practical.
In essence, the United States is dictating what kind of health care and counseling that aid workers provide.
Oddly enough, research suggests that these kinds of restrictions on foreign aid can actually lead to an increase in the abortion rate. Access to comprehensive, inclusive family planning and health care makes it easier for people to make informed choices about sexuality and their bodies.
Many organizations feel pressured into accepting this terrible…