The global gag rule, also known as the “Mexico City policy”, prohibits international organisations that receive US funding from providing abortion services or offering information about the procedure. The rule has traditionally been rescinded or rolled back by Democratic presidents and reinstated by Republican leaders.
The Mexico City policy kicked off in 1984 under then- U.S.A President Ronald Reagan.US President Donald Trump reinstated policy rule days after taking office in January 2017. The Trump administration has also expanded the policy to include funding coming from the US Department of State, USAID and Department of Defense.
The policy cut off access to both comprehensive sexual and reproductive health information services leading to unwanted pregnancies, unsafe abortions, and preventable deaths. A project providing sexual and reproductive healthcare to sex workers in Mzuzu Malawi, in 2017 was suddenly discontinued following the Global Gag Rule.
Christine Stegling, Executive Director at Frontline AIDS, said ‘‘The expanded policy disrupted HIV programmes, outreach services and referrals for the most marginalised, and compromised access to HIV prevention, testing and treatment’’.
The global gag rule was scrapped by the US president, Joe Biden, in a presidential memorandum on Thursday 28th January 2021.Repealing the controversial policy means for key communities’ ability to access services. The future of sex workers now looks bright because there will be continuity of HIV care and treatment as well as reopening of the closed facilities. Sex workers also have a choice to carry out safe abortions and get rid of unwanted pregnancies and preventable death.