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A GOP Anti-abortion Policy Caused a 40% Increase in Abortions

07/06/19 | by [mail] | Categories: culture/news, faith/skepticism

A new study shows that a Republican anti-abortion policy has led to a 40% increase in abortions.

In 1984, Ronald Reagan put a policy in place relating to foreign aid. The rule says that when an overseas aid organization accepts funding from the US government, it has to agree to not even mention abortion as an option when giving counseling and medical care to locals. Reagan announced the rule in the capital of Mexico, so it's come to be known as the "Mexico City Policy." It's also often referred to as the "global gag rule" since it bars these organizations from even talking about abortion with the the people they're helping.

Chart showing increase in abortion rates while the gag rule was active.Since then, the policy has been rescinded by every Democratic president and then reinstated by every Republican president. This might make for a confusing landscape for grantees, but it also provides researchers with a great opportunity to study the effects of this on-again, off-again rule. The results my surprise many Republican voters.

A new study from Stanford University, released last week by The Lancet Global Health, shows that the gag rule has led to a 40% INCREASE in the abortion rate in Africa. In other words, the Mexico City Policy, which was intended to reduce abortion, actually caused MORE abortions. Withholding funding from aid groups that teach poor families about all their family planning options has led to a decline in contraception use and a corresponding increase in the number of abortions.

Voters who consider themselves "pro-life" first and foremost have had to put up with an increasing amount of nonsense from the politicians they support. Many have been willing to hold their nose and vote for nominally anti-abortion politicians who are pro-war, pro-death-penalty, corrupt, incompetent, and wholly owned by billionaires as long as they still favor restricting abortion. I was a voter like this in the first presidential race I was able to vote in: 2000. Nothing mattered to me as much as the fact that Bush was going to work toward outlawing abortion.

I began to snap out of it when I saw the GOP charging toward war in Iraq, cheered on by evangelical Christians. As the American and Iraqi casualties piled up and the basis of the war was shown to be a lie, I realized that these decisions weren't made by people who valued life like I thought they did. In time, I also saw that the measures they took to restrict abortion were not helping. Study after study has shown that the best ways to cut the abortion rate are expanding access to contraception, providing accurate sex education, and maintaining a safety net that protects families from abject poverty. Nothing else works. Not bans. Not restrictions on clinics. And certainly not voting for people eager to take bodily autonomy from women.

Opponents of abortion rights are frequently accused of attempting to control women. In my experience, this accusation is often unfair. When I was an anti-abortion voter, I sincerely thought that the GOP's policies would reduce abortion. I don't think I was aware of details like the Mexico City Policy, and I certainly didn't know it was so counterproductive. If I had known that it made the problem worse and if I'd still supported it, then questioning my motivations would have been fair game.

So, the facts are clear: The Mexico City Policy has led to more abortions, not less. Voters who claim to want to reduce abortions now have an important choice to make. Do you want to continue supporting a rule that makes the problem worse, or do you want to learn from this 35-year experiment and start supporting solutions that actually help?

Read about the Stanford study here. You'll find a summary there as well as a link to the full study, but that's behind a paywall. I snagged a copy through my college's access to the journal, so get in touch with me if you'd like to take a look.

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