A report issued on Tuesday by the Centre for Health and Gender Equity (CHANGE) has claimed that Donald Trump’s policy on foreign aid is significantly disrupting medical assistance in local communities. In what has come to be known as the “global gag rule”, the policy whereby any group receiving U.S. health funding should not perform, promote or support abortion as a means of family planning. This policy encompasses both non-governmental organizations as well as profit organizations.
The U.S. president’s policy is an augmentation of policies by previous Republican presidents. Global health funds totalling 8.8 billion dollars have been affected as have groups that offer reproductive health, family planning, maternal and child healthcare. In addition to these healthcare firms that target infectious diseases, HIV/AIDS, nutrition, malaria, tuberculosis among others. The executive memorandum to reinstate the policy was signed by Donald Trump which had been overturned by Barack Obama in 2009.
The new restrictions are leading to continued major cutbacks on the ground for groups reliant on U.S. funding. One of the groups affected is AMODEFA (The Mozambican Association for Family Development). Due to the cutbacks, the group will lose 60% of its budget come 2019. The association will have to close 10 of its 20 clinics and lay off 30% of its staff.
Research from when the policy was in place under George W. Bush indicates that it did not reduce abortions. The report goes on to add that the manner in which the policy was rolled out and explained by the Trump administration led to confusion among the targeted groups. The report further argues that the influence of this policy spills into areas such as women’s empowerment.
Another NGO affected will be forced to discontinue a project in Uganda that had been aimed at young women and adolescent girls. About 14,000 of these women will no longer get information as well as services on HIV/AIDS and economic empowerment. The group also reported that the International Planned Parenthood Foundation approximated that it would lose 100 million dollars in U.S. funding under Donald Trump. The lost funds would lead to around 20,000 maternal deaths, 4.8 million unplanned pregnancies and about 1.7 million unsafe abortions.
Due to this policy, multiple organizations have cut funding ties with the United States. Many of these organizations have been forced to do so since their work is majorly tied to providing reproductive healthcare to women and providing counsel to women on gender-based violence.