A study published in the medical journal The Lancet found that President Trump’s global gag rule, a policy pushed by religious conservatives in an attempt to limit abortion worldwide, actually caused abortions to increase by 40%.
The global gag rule was first introduced by President Reagan in 1984. It was rescinded by Bill Clinton, reinstated by George W. Bush, rescinded by Obama, and reinstated and expanded by Trump. The rule bars foreign organizations from receiving US global health funds if they provide abortion services or even if they provide information about abortions.
“On the one hand, the policy's restrictions on abortion funding imply an intended goal to reduce abortions,” the study’s authors wrote. “On the other hand, if the policy curtails the operations of organisations that provide family planning services, it could also limit the supply of modern contraception. This in turn may have the unintended consequence of increasing abortions because modern contraception and abortion are substitutes in some contexts: lower modern contraceptive use might lead to more unintended pregnancies, and more abortions.”
The study examined data from 1995 to 2014 in 26 sub-Saharan African counties and found that abortions increased by 40% during the times that the rule was in place.
The study also found a 14% decrease in the use of contraception and a 12% increase in pregnancies.
"If you lower the contraceptive supply, then there are more unintended pregnancies and then more abortions," study co-author Nina Brooks told NPR.
Abortions bans only prevent safe abortion:
As in the United States, abortion bans do not actually stop abortions, they merely cut access to safe abortions.
“It drives women underground to less safe options,” the International Women's Health Coalition’s Nina Besser Doorley told Shareblue, calling it a "really terrible policy that does the exact opposite of its stated impact."
"It is literally causing the death of women around the world," she said.
"Regardless of what people personally believe about abortion, our evidence is consistent with what aid organizations [on the ground] have been saying, which is that this [Global Gag Rule] leads to a pretty big increase in abortions," study co-author Grant Miller told NPR.