The first year of the Trump/Pence administration brought with it incredible attacks on sexual and reproductive health and rights. With policies, both international and domestic in scope, that are impacting the health and lives of people around the world, Population Institute has launched rePROS Fight Back. Its host, Jennie Wetter, says it’s a podcast on “all things ‘repro’.”
“Everything related to reproductive health care is under assault: birth control, maternal health care, rights of the LGBTQ community, and immigrant access to reproductive health care services,” Wetter says of the U.S. administration. “Our podcast gives listeners a chance to learn about a wide range of sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) issues and what they can do to fight back.”
On Tuesday, January 16th, rePROS Fight Back will talk about the Global Gag Rule for its fifth episode. This policy is also known as the “Mexico City Policy” and it prevents foreign NGOs operating in developing countries from receiving US family planning funding if they performed, counseled, or referred patients for abortion services or urged countries to liberalize their abortion laws. Since its original implementation under President Reagan in 1984, every Republican administration has imposed it and every Democratic administration has revoked it.
“The Trump/Pence administration reinstated the Global Gag Rule,” says Wetter. “No surprise there. But they also extended the rule to foreign NGOs receiving any global health funding from the U.S., including NGOs receiving money for child vaccines or malaria treatments. Because of that expansion, the amount of US funding affected by the Global Gag Rule has soared from $600 million to $9 billion.”
Wetter, and many others working internationally in family planning and global health, realize the tremendous negative impact this will have on health initiatives around the world — the majority of which have nothing to do with abortion.
“I invited Beirne Roose-Snyder, the Director of Public Policy at the Center for Health and Gender Equity (CHANGE), to come and talk about the impact this will have on women in the developing world,” Wetter says. “CHANGE is a major player in the ongoing fight over the Global Gag Rule. On our podcast we talk with people who, every day, are leading the fight to promote and protect sexual and reproductive health and rights in the U.S. and overseas.”
In its first four episodes, rePROS Fight Back has included guests like Heidi Williamson from The National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda; Jacqueline Ayers from the Planned Parenthood Federation of America; Mara Gandal-Powers from the National Women’s Law Center; and Jonathan Rucks from PAI, a global organization working for reproductive health care for women everywhere.
“These are busy people doing important work,” says Wetter about her guests, “and yet they take time out of their long working day to talk with us about their work. The information we provide leads to active engagement on these issues. This is no time to be sitting on the sidelines. If you are, you must act.”