Sheryl Sandberg is leaning in when it comes to women’s rights overseas
In the wake of President Trump signing an executive order reinstating the global gag rule on abortion, many people are speaking out against the order. And not just Hollywood celebs, but business professionals like Sheryl Sandberg have spoken about women’s rights and how his order will hurt women around the world. Known as the Mexico City Policy — and by its critics as the “global gag rule” — the abortion policy prohibits organizations abroad from using American aid to even talk about abortion as a method of family planning.
In a Facebook post, the COO talks about need for these organizations, and how crucial they are in supporting women’s health. “The last time the global gag rule was in effect, research showed more women who lost access to contraception had unwanted pregnancies and abortion rates doubled,” she wrote. “The best way to prevent abortion is through more family planning services, not fewer.”
Statistics from the Guttmacher Institute support this, saying that in Ghana, “abortion rates were higher during the gag rule years than non-gag rule years in rural and poor populations.” Many organizations that rely on American assistance are going to suffer. Zelda Nhlabatsi, the executive director of the Family Life Association of Swaziland said that:
Our organization could definitely be affected, including our HIV services, and you can imagine how detrimental that could be for a small country like Swaziland that’s been heavily affected by HIV.
Instead of decreasing the abortion rate, research suggests that the policy has had a counter intuitive impact. In countries that relied heavily on funding from the United States for reproductive health services, abortion rates rose when the Reagan-era policy was in place. The research suggests that when funding is lost for abortions, the funding for birth control also disappears. This means a higher pregnancy rate and often times unsafe abortions.
In a way to soften the blow of the rule, the Netherlands lost no time in casting itself as a defender of reproductive rights. Its Foreign Ministry said Wednesday that it would start an international fund “to make up as much as possible for this financial blow.” There are no details about how this fund will work, but we’re excited to what they come up with.