Art+by+Lucia+Wagner.

Art by Lucia Wagner.

Choking Up on the “Gag Rule”

Why Trump's new executive order is destructive and unfit for our current world.

February 4, 2017

President Donald Trump recently signed an executive order reinstating the “Gag Rule” on overseas organizations for family planning. Now, foreign countries will not be allotted funds from the United States for abortion services. This limits how much an individual can spend on abortions, the amount of groups that can advocate for legal abortions, and how much an individual can even speak about abortion with a doctor. It is already illegal for countries to pay for abortions with U.S. money, but this new law prohibits organizations from honestly informing clients about available reproductive health options, including education about abortions.

Marie Stopes International, a worldwide family planning organization, estimates abortion rates will rise by 2.2 million a year — 2.1 of which will be unsafe for the mother. Additionally, it is estimated there will be 6.5 million unintended pregnancies and 21,700 maternal deaths solely in Trump’s first term of presidency. Because the Gag Rule limits women’s access to birth control options, there will be a spike in unplanned pregnancies, which will lead to more abortions.

The Gag Rule has been instated twice before by Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush. Trump’s executive order will have a more significant repercussion, extending not only to family planning, but affecting $8 billion in global health aid (organizations cannot use money for the U.S. for Zika prevention or HIV/AIDS counseling). Before Barack Obama eliminated the Gag Rule, and estimated 70,000 women per year were dying from these policies. Currently, 20,000 women are in severe danger.

After examining the facts, the solution seems abundantly clear. When America limits access to education about reproductive health and contraception options, abortion rates skyrocket. No one wants abortion rates to increase, and the only way to limit abortions is to increase access to birth control and education. Abortions are not going away anytime soon, even if the process becomes illegal. We have to ensure there are safe abortion options for women everywhere. Women go through incredibly dangerous procedures and occasionally die while getting an abortion.

In an ideal world, abortions would not exist. Unfortunately, this is not the world we live in. Abortions will occur whether they are legal or not. According to statistics, the best and safest way to limit the number of abortions is to make them legal and increase availability of birth control options while educating women on how to be safe. The Gag Rule Trump is instating will most likely cause abortion rates and maternal mortality to rise significantly. Women always have the choice to get an abortion or not — the question is whether they have the choice to get a legal abortion or an unsafe, illegal one.

Anyone, regardless of political leaning, can see the safest option is to legalize abortion, provide birth control, and teach adequate sex education. Even if abortion is against your moral beliefs, making the option illegal will raise the rates of abortion and cause more women to die.

The Gag Rule is destructive and unfit for our current world. It will raise the rates of abortions in other countries and most of those will be unsafe, causing more maternal mortality. Supporting family organizations like Planned Parenthood and the Emma Goldman Clinic can make a great deal of difference in your community.

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