So-Called ‘Global Gag Rule’ Has Made HIV/AIDS, Pregnancy Prevention More Difficult for Women Worldwide, Opinion Piece Says
Some U.S. policies, such as the so-called "global gag rule," have "made it harder for women in Africa and elsewhere to prevent HIV/AIDS and unwanted pregnancies," Elizabeth Maguire, president of the nongovernmental organization Ipas and former director of USAID's Office of Population, writes in a Raleigh News & Observer opinion piece (Maguire, Raleigh News & Observer, 7/22). The "global gag rule," which also is known as the Mexico City policy, bars U.S. money from going to international groups that support abortion through direct services, counseling or lobbying activities (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 6/14/04). U.S.-funded clinics worldwide provide "crucial" reproductive health-related services, including HIV/AIDS prevention information, prenatal care and contraception, but the "narrow ideological agenda of the religious right distorts" these efforts, Maguire says. If U.S. assistance over the past 30 years had been used to improve access to contraception and abortion care, the U.S. -- which is "the world's largest development donor" -- could have helped save the lives of more than 200,000 women, she writes, adding that instead "they are casualties of U.S. domestic political battles." Even if access to contraception improves, "millions of women will still have unintended pregnancies and be exposed to HIV/AIDS," which is "particularly tragic because it is preventable," Maguire says, concluding, "If this administration truly cares about women, it must place women's lives above domestic political interests, beginning with the repeal of the global gag rule" (Raleigh News & Observer, 7/22).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.