How the Administration is Attacking Repro Rights in the US and Overseas
Every person, no matter who they are and where they live, should be able to make basic health decisions about their lives. Reproductive health and rights are both a domestic and international issue; we cannot talk about one without the other. But, attempting to keep up-to-date on the global fight on reproductive health can often be overwhelming. Helping us bridge that gap is Chloe Cooney with Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Because both in the United States and abroad, the intention behind every policy that limits reproductive health is an attack on women’s rights.
Opponents of women’s health are looking at every possible attempt to roll back women’s access to affordable health care. It can take different forms in different countries, but the intention of limiting or banning providers, services, or information is still the same. That’s what makes reproductive health and rights a global movement.
One attempt to curtail access to reproductive healthcare abroad is the Trump administration’s implementation of the expanded Global Gag Rule. Not only does this rule gag doctors from giving patients accurate abortion information, it gags organizations from advocating for their rights for providing legal abortion care. These limitations are a condition of receiving global health assistance, which puts foreign NGOs in a position to choose between proper funding and providing comprehensive care to their patients. As a result, there are increased rates of unintended pregnancies, unsafe abortions, and more maternal deaths due to lack of access to contraception.
A version of this rule has also been proposed in the United States. The rule attempts to block doctors, nurses, hospitals and any provider that receives funding from the Title X program, from being able to counsel their patients on safely accessing abortion care. The rule is designed to:
1) Make it impossible for millions of patients to get birth control or preventative care from Planned Parenthood or any other provider;
2) Prevent doctors, nurses, and providers of any kind from providing referrals for abortion care;
3) Remove the guarantee that patients can get the full and accurate information about their healthcare from their doctor.
Some clinics both abroad and in the United States may be the only source of care for a woman to access in her community. It may be the sole provider of STD testing, contraception access, cancer screenings, and well-woman visits. If shut down, women will have less options and nowhere to turn.
The U.S. government is also in the process of pushing ‘sexual risk avoidance’ programs, which translates to abstinence-only. Access to sexual education in order to know what your sexual health needs are, basic facts about sexual health , and the skills and tools available to you are universal needs. Limiting that information means infringing on the right to information.
Religious refusals also carry domestic and global implications; the ability to deny care based on an organization’s religious views is far reaching. PEFAR (President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief), for instance, has a very expanded religious refusal policy that goes well beyond the religious protections of individuals, meaning the U.S. government’s corporate rules are impacting how people receive healthcare abroad. It is important to remember that those who bear the brunt of religious refusals are those who already face extreme systematic inequalities, like rural women and young girls abroad or communities of color in the U.S.
The gag rules, religious refusals and ‘sexual-risk avoidance’ programs work to censor a provider’s ability to give information and care. This results in reproductive coercion by blocking certain reproductive health options, cutting access to sex education, and limiting contraception methods.
These monstrous policies, rules and programs impact individuals in the United States and extends abroad. Reproductive health and rights is a global fight.