Workshop identifies harmful impacts of Global Gag Rule on developing nations



Dr Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi, a facilitator at an Ipas-organised workshop for journalists, says the US Global Gag Rule (GGR) has the potential to increase the rate of unsafe abortions in Nigeria and other developing nations across the world.

Akiyode-Afolabi’s said this on Thursday, while delivering a lecture on the “Exceptions in the GGR and its implications for Women and Girls in Nigeria” at a three-day workshop in Owerri.

She said that GGR drastically reduced the funding of services by non-governmental organisations, including advocacy and counselling, on Women Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (WSRHR).

She said that the development had hindered women’s access to relevant information on safe abortion, hence making the resort to unsafe abortion inevitable.

“The GGR, in effect, hinders access to safe abortion services and puts women in vulnerable situations – left to resort to unsafe abortions, risking their health and lives because of the policy,” she declared.

Akiyode-Afolabi further said that a WHO report indicates that “there are 225 million women in developing countries, who want to avoid pregnancy but lack access to modern contraception”.

According to her, GGR will not only hurt abortion access or access to contraception but other forms of health care as well.

“This expanded GGR will hinder and possibly end the work of health care providers, who may be the only source for reproductive health care and a woman’s entry point for receiving a wide range of primary health services,” the Ipas facilitator said.

She also said that GGR had thrown up a challenge for local NGOs that depended on US donors, including USAID, to initiate collaboration with other donor agencies in order to remain functional.

She charged the media to embark on a sustained campaign to highlight the dangers inherent in GGR.

Also speaking, Ipas Country Director, Mr Lucky Palmer, said that the negative impact of GGR on funding had compelled the Florida-based NGO to scale down its operations in Nigeria.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that GGR, otherwise known as “Mexico City Policy”, is a U.S policy that prevents foreign NGOs from deploying funds from United States donor agencies in providing abortion services.

It, however, does not prohibit funding for counselling or referrals in rape, incest or life-threatening cases and humanitarian services.

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