One of the first things the Biden administration did upon taking office was repeal Trump’s Mexico City Policy, better known as the Global Gag Rule. The rule, adopted by every recent Republican administration, forbids health clinics receiving U.S. funding from mentioning abortion. It’s a vital step toward slowing the global maternal mortality epidemic and reducing the spread of HIV/AIDS. That’s because funding clinics that discuss abortion saves lives. Indeed, reproductive health advocates have referred to the Mexico City Policy as a “death sentence” for the world’s poorest women.
Now, a new set of data shows just how deadly the policy was for people across the globe.
How Global Gag Rule Increased the Abortion Rate
A 2019 study looked at abortion rates and healthcare access across Sub-Saharan Africa between 1995 and 2014. Researchers then compared outcomes when Republicans were in control and implemented the Mexico City Policy to when Democrats rescinded it. When the policy was active under Republican administrations, the abortion rate rose by 40%. Contraceptive use also declined by 13.5%.
It’s too early to know for sure how the Trump Mexico City Policy affected the abortion rate, but the results are likely even worse. Trump’s policy was more Draconian than that of previous administrations, and research already shows it caused clinics across the globe to close.
A Rise in Maternal Deaths
The Mexico City Policy didn’t just push the abortion rate higher. It cost thousands of women their lives.
MSI Reproductive Choices, which lost funding under the policy, says funding could have prevented 20,000 maternal deaths and 1.8 million unsafe abortions. The International Planned Parenthood Federation reports similarly grim numbers. It says it could have provided an additional 725,000 HIV tests, treated 525,000 STIs, and prevented 4.8 million undesired pregnancies.
Reversing the policy won’t bring back the thousands of lives lost thanks to Republicans. And it will take time to restore access to reproductive healthcare, which means the deaths may continue for years.
Republican lawmakers have access to the same data as Democrats. They’re not dumb. They know that this policy kills people. But that’s always been the point. Whether they’re recommending the death penalty for abortion in Texas and Georgia or forcing women to give birth in unsafe hospitals without access to quality healthcare, the cruelty is the point. Anti-choice laws have always been about punishing women, even with death.
So for Republicans, these deaths are a source of pride. Make them admit it. Stop letting them claim to be pro-life. This has never been about preserving life.