Trump’s right to choose?

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Trump’s right to choose?

Photo courtesy of Katherine Bouker

Photo courtesy of Katherine Bouker

Photo courtesy of Katherine Bouker

Photo courtesy of Katherine Bouker

Katherine Bouker

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This summer I had the pleasure of working at the Center for Health and Gender Equity (CHANGE). It is a non-governmental organization (NGO) that is dedicated to advocating for the reproductive health and rights of women and girls worldwide and serving as a watchdog for Trump and his policies. When I first arrived at CHANGE, I was immediately informed about one of Trump’s most deadly women’s healthcare laws. The Global Gag Rule (formally known as the Mexico City policy) stipulates that any international NGO that receives funding from the United States may not council, refer or give their patients abortions. These clinics that choose not to abide by the rules lose most of their funding and do not have enough funds to offer other services like HIV testing.

The global gag rule in international countries is the equivalent of removing Roe versus Wade in the United States, which gives women in America the right to choose whether or not they want an abortion. The global gag rule is a law that Democratic presidents always revoke and one that Republicans presidents tend to reinstate. However, Trump went further by applying the rule to all federal health funding not just family planning money, which means countries could potentially lose over eight billion dollars in U.S support. It was shocking to hear about the global gag rule. Women globally are suffering as a result of a policy put into place by a man who is manipulating his power and country’s wealth to force his anti-abortion beliefs onto thousands of women.

Trump is a president with no respect for women or the rights they deserve. A woman’s right to choose should not be the decision of a man. Trump’s health care policies are not only affecting the enraged population of women in America but also those living in countries outside of the United States.

These women in other countries who do not have proper access to sufficient family planning methods are being controlled by someone who does not run their country. It is a law that most Americans are completely unaware of. Unsurprisingly, a policy that is meant to prevent abortions increases the number of illegal abortions that occur in these countries. This heavily increases maternal mortality rates.

My job and research allowed me to travel to Amsterdam for the 2018 International AIDS Conference. It was an extremely eye-opening experience to be able to meet different women from more than one hundred countries like Uganda, Ghana, and Zimbabwe. All of these women have incredibly diverse backgrounds and were all involved in very interesting work related to fighting the AIDS crisis and improving healthcare.

As I worked the CHANGE booth at the conference, I had to explain the gag rule to hundreds of women who did not know what it was. Most of these women were directly affected by the rule and were unaware of it. A frustrating aspect of the policy is that there is no set rule of guidelines that states exactly what healthcare providers are allowed to say regarding abortions. This is where the gag aspect comes into place because healthcare providers are being silenced and are not able to fully do their jobs. If they say something they may lose U.S. funding, but not saying something could cost them the lives of their patients. We seem to be facing a never-ending cycle of problems in the United States but countries worldwide are also feeling the same rippling effect when it comes to their healthcare institutions.