Trump’s ban on global abortion funding has led to more abortions

Health worker Elizabeth Wanjiru was walking through the narrow streets of Kenya’s largest slum earlier this year when she came across two schoolboys pointing at something in a muddy ditch. As she drew closer she saw it was the remains of an aborted fetus. Dumped elsewhere in Kibera, the fetus had washed up in a narrow alleyway after a night of rainfall. It’s something Wanjiru hasn’t seen for years.
Wanjiru and other health workers in Kenya told CNN that the number of backstreet abortions have increased since the United States cut aid to family planning programs that provide abortion services, in addition to contraception, in the world’s least developed countries.
Ushered in by President Donald Trump’s administration, the Mexico City policy, or global gag rule, was supposed to reduce the number of abortions, but healthcare workers in Kenya say it’s doing the opposite. The cuts, which left thousands of women in Kenya without contraception, have forced many to resort to risky, backstreet abortions as a form of birth control.

Trump is also eyeing funding changes in the US. Last week, his administration proposed a new rule that would bar abortions or advice on abortion at facilities receiving federal family planning funds. While there are already laws in place that prevent federal money from directly funding abortions, the new rule would mean family planning programs would have to perform abortion services or provide abortion counseling and referrals in a different place, and by different employees, for the facility to continue receiving federal family planning dollars. It’s been described as a domestic version of the global gag policy by abortion rights activists.

Reliant on international donors for support, communities like Kibera are where the Mexico City policy has been felt the most and, so far, the national government says it has been unable to make up the shortfall.
For five years Khadijah Dija visited a family health clinic in the slum every three months to get a free contraceptive injection until Trump’s funding cuts came into effect.
The single mother-of-two says she relied on the family-planning method to avoid having another child she couldn’t afford. Her daily earnings from selling porridge, equivalent to 50 cents, are barely enough to buy food for her family, or pay rent on their one-room house.
When the nongovernmental organization Family Health Options Kenya (FHOK) informed Dija last August that it no longer had funds to provide her with free contraception she said she was devastated.
The three-month injectable contraceptives she had previously received for free would now cost her $4, according to FHOK.
Sitting on the bottom bunk of her children’s bed, their toys scattered around her, Dija told CNN that she had considered getting injections from a local pharmacy, where they sell for about $2 to $3. But she said they’re often expired, or unsafe, and she couldn’t afford them anyway.
Injectables are the most commonly used form of contraception for women in Africa. Invisible to partners, they reduce the risk of backlash and are easy to use.
Africa already has the lowest percentage of women using birth control, and the highest unmet demand for contraceptives in the world.
And because many African countries rely on US Agency for International Development (USAID) money to fill gaps in women’s health services, the Trump funding cuts are hitting women like Dija particularly hard.
Read the full story at CNN
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