“The impact [of the
Global Gag Rule in Ghana] was immediate, deep and damaging,” — Matilda Owusu-Ansah
of the Planned Parenthood Association of Ghana (PPAG).
At a heavily attended briefing in Congress last week,
renowned experts Dr. Joachim Osur, of the Ipas African Alliance, and Matilda
Owusu-Ansah, formally of the Planned Parenthood Association of Ghana (PPAG),
addressed the damaging effects of the Global Gag Rule—highlighting the real,
direct, and, more often than not, deadly impact of this policy in their
According to Ms. Owusu-Ansah, PPAG, the largest provider of
family planning services before imposition of the Global Gag Rule, lost all
USAID family planning funding.
Within one year, their condom distribution fell by 40%. With limited access to reproductive
health supplies and services, the number of unintended pregnancies increased
dramatically, as well as the number of new sexually transmitted infections.
In Kenya, the effects of the Global Gag Rule have been
equally detrimental. When the policy was reinstated, Dr. Osur was working for
the Family Planning Association of Kenya (FPAK). When FPAK refused to sign, they
immediately lost 58% of its annual budget.
These budget cuts forced the closure of eight of FPAK’s 16 clinics,
leaving 100,000 women without access to reproductive health services—including
the contraceptives that would help them avoid unintended pregnancies, abortion
According to the Bush administration, the Global Gag Rule was
reinstated in 2001 to prevent abortions worldwide. In reality, the effect has been quite
the opposite. In addition to
creating contraceptive shortfalls and closing reproductive health clinics, Ms.
Owusu-Ansah reported that PPAG saw at 50% increase in the number of women who
came to their clinics for post-abortion care. By denying access to reproductive health
services and contraceptives, the number of unintended pregnancies grew, often
leading to abortion.
Our African colleagues gave this Congressional audience a
sobering wake-up call: Women are
dying from causes that, with the use of contraceptives and other family planning
services, are preventable. While
Congress voted to repeal this deadly policy in the State-Foreign Operations
Appropriations bill, the President is threatening to veto it, perpetuating the
Russian roulette these women play with their lives each day they are denied
access to family planning. Mr. President, we urge you to sign this bill. It’s time to give reproductive health
back to the hundreds of millions of women whose lives literally depend on