In one of the first of his many destructive acts, George Bush signed into legislation the Global Gag rule; a law which prohibited US aid money going to any organisation that does anything related to abortion (even if it is only offer advice or counseling).
Population Action International have a helpful little snapshot of the impacts of this.
At a heavily attended briefing in Congress last week, renowned experts Dr. Joachim Osur, of the Ipas African Alliance, and Matilda Owusu-Ansah, formally of the Planned Parenthood Association of Ghana (PPAG), addressed the damaging effects of the Global Gag Rule—highlighting the real, direct, and, more often than not, deadly impact of this policy in their respective countries.The US congress is currently trying to override the global gag rule. If they do this Bush has promised to veto the entire US aid budget. Nice guy...
According to Ms. Owusu-Ansah, PPAG, the largest provider of family planning services before imposition of the Global Gag Rule, lost all USAID family planning funding. Within one year, their condom distribution fell by 40%. With limited access to reproductive health supplies and services, the number of unintended pregnancies increased dramatically, as well as the number of new sexually transmitted infections.
In Kenya, the effects of the Global Gag Rule have been equally detrimental. When the policy was reinstated, Dr. Osur was working for the Family Planning Association of Kenya (FPAK). When FPAK refused to sign, they immediately lost 58% of its annual budget. These budget cuts forced the closure of eight of FPAK’s 16 clinics, leaving 100,000 women without access to reproductive health services—including the contraceptives that would help them avoid unintended pregnancies, abortion and STIs.
According to the Bush administration, the Global Gag Rule was reinstated in 2001 to prevent abortions worldwide. In reality, the effect has been quite the opposite. In addition to creating contraceptive shortfalls and closing reproductive health clinics, Ms. Owusu-Ansah reported that PPAG saw at 50% increase in the number of women who came to their clinics for post-abortion care. By denying access to reproductive health services and contraceptives, the number of unintended pregnancies grew, often leading to abortion.