Intended for healthcare professionals


Abortion: US “global gag rule” is killing women and girls, says report

BMJ 2019; 365 doi: (Published 06 June 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;365:l4118
  1. Zosia Kmietowicz
  1. Vancouver

A US government policy that blocks federal funding for non-governmental organisations that provide or support abortion is killing women, a new report says, because they are being excluded from a range of essential sexual and reproductive health services and information and turning to unsafe abortions.

The “global gag rule” rule prohibits foreign non-governmental organisations that receive US global health funding from providing legal abortion services or referrals and also bars advocacy for abortion law reform. The rule, first implemented by the Reagan administration and rescinded by subsequent Democratic presidents, was reinstated and expanded by Donald Trump when he took office in 2017. It now affects an estimated $9bn (£7bn; €8bn) of US global health assistance.

Two years on, an assessment of services in Kenya, Nepal, Nigeria, and South Africa has found “irrefutable evidence” that the gag rule was “depriving women and girls and other marginalised populations of essential information and services,” with devastating consequences.1

Vanesa Rios, who wrote the report for the US based International Women’s Health Coalition, told a press briefing at the Women …

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