Abortions rise worldwide when US cuts funding to women’s health clinics, study finds

Fulfilling Republican efforts to “defund Planned Parenthood,” the Trump administration announced on Feb. 22 it would end federal funding to health providers that perform abortions.

This new ruling is the domestic version of the “global gag rule” that Trump imposed in 2017. It cuts U.S. global health funding from organizations abroad that perform – or even talk about – abortions, including the International Planned Parenthood Federation.

First implemented under Ronald Reagan in 1984, the global gag rule has been rescinded by every Democrat and reinstated by every Republican to occupy the Oval Office, reflecting the partisan nature of abortion.

Supporters of the global gag rule say defunding abortion providers will reduce abortions. However, researchers from Stanford University in 2011 found that this U.S. policy actually made women in sub-Saharan Africa twice as likely to have an abortion.

Gag rule increases abortions in Latin America and Africa

My new study, published in November 2018, confirms those findings in Africa and shows that the global gag rule had an even greater effect in Latin America.

Analyzing abortion data from 51 developing countries between 2001 and 2008 – which encompassed the reproductive decisions of about 6.3 million women – I found that women in Latin America were three times more likely to have an abortion while the global gag rule was in effect.

Reflecting this impact, the percentage of pregnancies in Latin America that ended in abortion rose from 23 percent in 1994, under the Clinton administration, to 32 percent by 2010, after two terms of the Bush administration.

In the United States, where abortion is legal nationwide, about 25 percent of pregnancies end in abortion.