Gag Rule’ Cuts Venezuelan Women’s Access to Health Care

Video: US Global Gag Rule cuts access to care for Venezuelan women

Patients in the waiting room of an MSF clinic in Colombia.
Colombia 2019 © Melissa Pracht
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As Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) marks International Safe Abortion Day on September 28, we're looking at the far-reaching impacts of the US Global Gag Rule (officially known as the Mexico City Policy). At our medical projects in Colombia, we're seeing large numbers of Venezuelan women forced to flee economic and political upheaval in their home country and now left with limited access to essential health services.

The Global Gag Rule targets overseas health organizations that rely on US global health funding. The latest version of the policy enacted by President Donald Trump prohibits organizations that receive US government funding for any of their activities from offering abortion-related services, including counseling women on their reproductive options or referring them to an agency that can provide these services. This effectively puts a "gag" on health providers. If organizations do not agree to this policy, they lose US funding, for which there are few adequate alternatives. The US provides far more global health funding than any other donor in the world. Many of the organizations that are affected provide other critical services, including contraception, HIV/AIDS testing and treatment, and malnutrition care.

The people affected by this policy are those dealing with war, persecution, and collapsed health systems, like those fleeing Venezuela. The Global Gag Rule means that people in crisis who need essential health services are less likely to receive them.