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Abortions In Africa Increased During 'Global Gag Rule,' Stanford University Study Shows

“In the first study to examine” the effects of a U.S. policy prohibiting foreign aid from going to any organization that performs abortions or provides information about or referral for the procedure as a method of family planning (often called the “Global Gag Rule” or “Mexico City Policy”), Stanford researchers Eran Bendavid and Grant Miller found that “the number of abortions increased in African countries where U.S. support for NGOs was cut the most,” according to a Stanford University news release (Gorlick, 9/28).

The study (.pdf), which is published online in the WHO Bulletin, states that “the induced abortion rate increased significantly from 10.4 per 10,000 woman-years for the period from 1994 to 2001 to 14.5 per 10,000 woman-years for the period from 2001 to 2008 … Although the trend changed gradually, the timing of the rise is consistent with the reinstatement of the Mexico City Policy in early 2001” (Bendavid et al., 9/27). Without U.S. foreign assistance, some groups had to close clinics, which “meant women lost access to birth control pills and other modern contraceptives. Bendavid and Miller argue that the reduction in the availability of modern contraceptives led women to seek abortions as a form of birth control,” according to the release (9/28). The study concludes, “Regardless of one’s views about abortion, the findings may have important implications for public policies governing abortion” (9/27).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.