The man who is prepared to cut US foreign aid in developing countries, particularly in areas of family planing, who I hope knowingly leads to various catastrophic consequences, goes by a name none other than Donald Trump.
Indeed, this isn’t a character assassination as such, but more of a rant on one singular man’s poor political decision-making
The problem: According to articles published in The Guardian today, and in the last few days, his actions include: planned budget cuts (having already decided to cut ObamaCare), and adopting a sterner approach towards the ‘Global Gag’ rule (otherwise known as the Mexico City rule), which, for those of you who are not familiar, ‘requires NGOs to certify that they will not perform or promote abortions anywhere in the world as a condition for receiving US family planning funds’. Those of which who refuse to sign will be denied access to health assistance, such as for HIV, TB and malaria programmes, and nutrition.
The ‘Global Gag’ rule will lead to an amalgamation of catastrophic consequences, particularly for NGOs who promote sexual and reproductive rights, and who are tackling high demands for abortion. However, in countries such as the Philippines, a country which is 78% Catholic, abortion is not allowed under the eyes of the law, nor the Catholic Church. Emergency contraception is not an option, not even for rape victims.
As a result, this leads to clandestine and unsafe abortions. In a documentary, also produced and edited by The Guardian, it was noted that 610,000 abortions occur each year in the Philippines, of which 3 women die every day due to unsafe circumstances. I ask you, Trump, is this really the reality you intend on enforcing?
It’s torture. Pure torture.
Women are having their abdomens punched and kicked; having barbecue sticks inserted into their vaginas in order to potentially puncture the fetus, all for a lack of funding – which had previously seen progress in population control.
This is true in the case of Nigeria, which now poses risks of a population boom as a result of the ‘Global Gag’ rule. ‘Cuts to US foreign aid enacted by the US administration mean that supplies of contraception are dwindling in Nigerian family planning services.’ As a result, this means that Nigeria is set to overtake the US in becoming the third largest country by 2050, just after India and China. Philippines will be 13th.
Contraception, you may suggest? Well, as ideal as this sounds, contraception is majoratively inaccessible, and individuals also choose to not take it for a variety of reasons. In the Philippines, 65% of women don’t use contraception. This is because of a fear of side-effects, lack of knowledge, and even embarrassment (in asking parents for contraception, such as condoms or the pill). Children as young as 12 and 13 are considering having sexual intercourse, and end up becoming pregnant due to the stigma of being deemed sexually promiscuous, as well as the fact that schools don’t have sex-education/contraception sessions.
The wider problem: Women do not have the choice in controlling their own bodies – governments and patriarchy do. Women are seen as second-class citizens in many developing countries. This is leading to many problems, including both deaths and population increase at the same time.
The debate: Understandably, many countries are against abortion because of societal norms, traditions, and culture, stemming from their religious beliefs and values. This is certainly the case in the Philippines. Yet, women should not want to seek abortions, should they have the materials, resources and support in place in order to plan their pregnancies more effectively and carefully. However, with lack of access or even knowledge of contraception, most of which is because of a LACK OF FUNDING, how are women practically meant to get themselves out of this vicious circle they call day-to-day reality? Trump, I ask you again, who will bridge the gap now?
Solutions… Fortunately, there are some individuals who, collectively, want to implement further sustainable family planning. Starting with Melinda Gates from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), along with the UK Department for International Development (DIFD) and the United Nations Population Fund, UNFPA, together they have co-hosted summit in London, where Gates will announce a big funding increase for family planning. However, this is still not enough.
If we want to see a world with a sustainably controlled population growth, and lack of ‘botched’, tortuous abortions, we need to have the world’s most powerful coming together to tackle these challenges. Rather than diverting funds towards waging wars, or spending half of your time on Twitter feuds, why not target your time and money towards allowing women to have more control over their bodies. This may be asking for a lot, but certainly and most positively when a woman is empowered, her whole family (or planned family) is, too. Think about it. I dare you, Trump, just think.
Here are the number of articles I refer to in this post: