Expanding access to legal, comprehensive abortion care in Ethiopia has led to a significant decrease in maternal mortality due to unsafe abortion.
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The Global Gag Rule undermined Ethiopia's progress on reducing maternal deaths due to unsafe abortion.
In 2005, Ethiopian advocates and health providers scored a victory for women and girls when they helped secure a more liberal abortion law that decriminalized the procedure and expanded the circumstances under which it is allowed. Improved access to legal, comprehensive abortion care and an increase in the number of people using family planning have led to a decline in maternal deaths from unsafe abortions.
As one reproductive health professional in Ethiopia told PAI, “When [the government] pushed through safe abortion care, women stopped dying.”
The Ethiopian government, public health experts and civil society know that legal, safe abortion care is critical to saving lives. But the Trump-Pence administration’s expanded Global Gag Rule (GGR) undermined Ethiopia’s progress on reducing maternal deaths due to unsafe abortions by cutting out critical providers from receiving U.S. global health funding.
Under the policy, qualified and trusted health professionals are prevented from providing safe and legal abortion services, including giving patients full and accurate information about their pregnancy options. It further blocks advocates from working with their governments to improve national abortion laws and policies.
The GGR forces foreign organizations to choose between receiving U.S. global health funding and providing comprehensive sexual and reproductive health care to the people they serve. This has led to the closure of clinics and mobile outreach programs that are the trusted — and sometimes sole — sources of family planning and other reproductive health services for marginalized groups in Ethiopia, particularly youth and hard-to-reach rural communities.
The GGR has also damaged long-standing partnerships between health care providers and impeded their ability to integrate sexual and reproductive health services with other vital programs, such as nutrition counseling, HIV testing and maternal health screenings.
The United States is the largest global health donor to Ethiopia and has helped build up and strengthen the country’s health systems. But the GGR is rolling back those achievements, including the country’s own domestic efforts to save women’s lives through progressive abortion policies. In our Access Denied reports, PAI has documented the harmful impacts the policy is having in countries like Ethiopia, giving our allies in Congress direct evidence of the policy’s consequences and strengthening the case for its permanent repeal.
When [the government] pushed through safe abortion care, women stopped dying.Interview from Access Denied Ethiopia