Trump's anti-abortion rule actually increases abortions by 40%


Trump's anti-woman global gag rule reduces women's access to health care and increases the number of abortions around the world.

Trump's attack on women's health care and abortion access around the world has been discovered to actually increase the number of people seeking abortions by 40%, according to a study released June 27 in the Lancet.

The rigorous study lays out the evidence that the global gag rule is responsible for denying women adequate health care, leading to an increase in unwanted pregnancies and a subsequent increase in the number of abortions.

The global gag rule denies U.S. international assistance to any organization that speaks to women about abortion as a health care option. U.S. law already prevents taxpayer funds from being used to perform abortions, but the global gag rule goes further, preventing organizations that receive U.S. assistance from using their own funds to perform abortions, or even refer women to clinics that provide abortions.

When Trump implemented the global gag rule, the White House claimed it was because he "made it very clear that he's a pro-life president." Yet this policy is responsible for an uptick in abortions, as the Lancet points out.

In the countries studied, scientists found a 14% decrease in the use of contraception and a 12% increase in pregnancies.

"If you lower the contraceptive supply, then there are more unintended pregnancies and then more abortions," Nina Brooks, one of the authors of the study, told NPR.

The decrease in contraception occurred because many of the organizations that were denied funding provide a wide range of health care services, including birth control. Without the funding, those services were scaled back, women were denied access to contraception, unwanted pregnancies increased and thus there were more abortions.

The study looked at data from 1995 through 2014 in 26 sub-Saharan African countries. During that time, President Clinton rescinded the global gag rule, followed by George W. Bush, who reinstated it, and then President Obama, who rescinded it again. While the ban was in place, the number of abortions increased by 40%.

The global gag rule not only fails to decrease abortion, "it drives women underground to less safe options," Nina Besser Doorley, senior program officer with the International Women's Health Coalition (IWHC), told Shareblue Media. It is a "really terrible policy that does the exact opposite of its stated impact."

"It is literally causing the death of women around the world," she added.

Jennifer Kates, director of global health and HIV policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation, told NPR that the Lancet study is "the largest empirical study" of the global gag rule to date.

Even at the time Trump reinstituted the rule, advocates warned of the consequences.

"Trump's Global Gag Rule will only lead to increases in unintended pregnancies, unsafe abortions, maternal and newborn deaths," Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, said at the time.

A recent IWHC report on the impact of the global gag rule lays out consequences beyond abortion, showing the policy also negatively impacts "HIV/AIDS testing and treatment, screening for cervical cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer, and support for survivors of gender-based violence."

The Trump administration has relentlessly attacked women's access to health care both abroad and at home. Trump wants to implement a "domestic gag rule" to limit what doctors in the United States can say to patients regarding abortion. In addition, Trump wants to get rid of the Affordable Care Act, including the provision that guarantees no-cost contraceptives to everyone.

Abortion is health care, but Trump's zealousness to deny women health care is having the opposite of his intended effect: It is only increasing the number of abortions taking place.

"Regardless of what people personally believe about abortion, our evidence is consistent with what aid organizations [on the ground] have been saying, which is that this [Global Gag Rule] leads to a pretty big increase in abortions," Grant Miller, one of the study authors, told NPR.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.