Opinion Pieces Discuss Impacts Of Expanded Mexico City Policy, Reintroduction Of Global HER Act

The Hill: Trump’s ‘culture that cherishes innocent life’ hurts many abroad
Brian Dixon, senior vice president of Population Connection Action Fund

“When Trump extended the specious olive branch during his State of the Union address — ‘let us work together to build a culture that cherishes innocent life’ — it was nothing but a hollow statement. Every year, 31,000 women die from unsafe abortions, 97 percent of which occur in developing countries. These women lack information and access to safe abortion services. By forcing health care providers in some of the world’s most disadvantaged communities to decide between critically needed U.S. funding and providing their patients with comprehensive health care and information, Trump’s ‘global gag rule’ [otherwise known as the Mexico City policy] no doubt exacerbates this crisis. … By introducing [the Global Health, Empowerment and Rights (HER) Act], … representatives and senators are not only demonstrating their commitment to listen to and represent their constituents, but also that they care about the health and dignity of everyone, everywhere. This iteration of the global gag rule has lasted two years too many — and Congress should act quickly to pass the Global HER Act and restore crucial support to health providers and the people they serve around the world. Let us work together to build a culture that genuinely values the lives of people around the world…” (2/8).

STAT: ‘Gag rule’ threatens to restrict women’s access to a highly effective HIV therapy
Meredith Kernan, student at Columbia Business School, and Cameron Nutt, student at Harvard Medical School

“…As we wait for more evidence about the safety of [the antiretroviral] dolutegravir during pregnancy, the solution is simple: ensure that women living with HIV have access to contraception so they can benefit from this medication. But that has become an often-insurmountable problem due to the global gag rule and the Trump administration’s decision to withhold U.S. contributions to the United Nations Population Fund, a major funder of women’s health services around the world and especially in sub-Saharan Africa, where AIDS is the leading cause of death for women of reproductive age. … Health officials and clinicians will have their hands tied when trying to implement the WHO and PEPFAR recommendations on dolutegravir. In addition to funding cuts to the United Nations Population Fund that leave pharmacy shelves empty of birth control medications, HIV doctors wanting to thoroughly counsel women about dolutegravir and neural tube defects could risk losing every cent of their clinic’s U.S. funding should they even mention the word abortion. … The uncertainty now surrounding dolutegravir need not result in a double standard based on gender. Instead, it should serve as a call for better integrating comprehensive reproductive health services into HIV care. Making this a reality, however, will require kicking the Trump administration’s dangerous policies toward women out of the clinic. The world looks to the women of the 116th Congress to show the way” (2/8).

Washington Post: I’ve witnessed the devastating effects of Trump’s global gag rule. Congress must act.
Melvine P. Ouyo, student at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and former clinic manager at Family Health Options Kenya

“…In order to keep [its] operations afloat and provide patients with this crucial, low-cost, high-quality care, Family Health Options Kenya relies on funding from external sources, including the United States. But two years ago, newly elected President Trump signed the global gag rule, which requires organizations abroad … that received U.S. [global health] aid to sign a statement indicating they will not mention abortion to clients, provide abortions, or refer clients to legal abortion services. Family Health Options Kenya, along with many other organizations, was faced with a choice: either sign the policy and stop providing comprehensive sexual reproductive health care services or decline to sign and lose desperately needed U.S. funding. Signing this policy would have been a violation of our ethical duty to do no harm, [to] protect our patients’ safety and save lives. … [Last] week, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) reintroduced the Global Health, Empowerment and Rights Act to Congress. … The Global HER Act and other initiatives to fight back against the gag rule give me hope for the future. The leaders of tomorrow understand that we must build a world where everyone — including disadvantaged children, poor men and women, young girls and boys, slum dwellers, the homeless, members of the LGBTQ community, the HIV-infected and -affected, sex workers, and women suffering from reproductive organ cancers — has access to equal rights and resources…” (2/8).

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