New Delhi, Jan. 24: President Donald Trump's decision to reinstate a rule that blocks US aid to overseas agencies providing abortion-related services will raise the risk of unsafe abortions in India and other countries, non-government agencies said today.
Trump, an abortion opponent, reinstated on Monday - his fourth day in office - the so-called "global gag rule" that bans US-funded groups across the world from discussing abortion, a move that was widely expected but has left women's rights advocates dismayed.
Janet Walsh, the acting director in the women's rights division of Human Rights Watch has called the global gag rule a "destructive policy" that "will contribute to unwanted pregnancies, unsafe abortions and women dying".
Under the rule, established by former US president Ronald Reagan in 1984, organisations will be disqualified from receiving US funding assistance even if they use non-US funds to provide abortion-related services. "This damaging policy restricts women's choices and promotes censorship of critical health options in clinics around the world, when studies estimate that globally between 8 per cent and 18 per cent of maternal mortality is due to unsafe abortions," Walsh wrote.
A non-government group in India said Trump's decision will stop the flow of US aid to organisations in the country that have been involved in delivering abortion services or raising awareness about contraception options, and raise the risk of unsafe abortions.
"The impact on India will be somewhat cushioned because most money for reproductive health services comes from the Government of India," Vinoj Manning, executive director of Ipas Development Foundation, told The Telegraph.
The US Agency for International Development website suggests it spent $21 million on family planning and reproductive health in India in 2015, $13.9 million in 2014 and $19 million in 2013. "US AID increases use of and access to family planning methods, particularly in poor and under-served communities," the agency said.