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Before I begin this, this is specifically for you Nigerians who sit in your houses and gripe about how we are hypocritical or pretentious for being wholly invested in international politics and global policies when it supposedly doesn’t ‘affect’ us. Congratulations, you played yourself.
If you haven’t heard, one of President Donald Trump’s first actions as the president of the United States was to reinstate the Global Gag rule. The Global Gag rule has existed in some for since the late 1970’s and has been advanced and repealed by each successive government in power in the United States as regards their political leanings. It is basically this; The United States funds a lot of health organizations around the world through several programs including but not restricted to USAID. As part of their health programmes many of these NGO’s offer sex related healthcare, including contraception, STD prevention, abortion referrals or services and post-abortion healthcare. The Global Gag rule is a policy that withdraws funding from organizations that offer any kind of abortion care or even advocate for it. Trump’s new incarnation of the Global Gag rule cuts funding almost entirely.
The kind of reproductive healthcare the Global Gag rule will hit hardest is that offered to women and teenage girls in poor countries. Nigeria is a poor country, with more than half of its population living below the poverty line. Poverty increases the incidence of teenage pregnancies and potentially life-threatening pregnancies. The worst part of this whole situation is this, pre and post-abortive care is only a tiny fraction of the work that NGO’s that are being targeted do.
The most important job they do is education. They educate women on reproductive health, on the long-term medical consequences of undiagnosed/untreated STI’s and provide contraception to the poorest and most at-risk women and men. Those condoms that you buy for 50 Naira, they’re subsidized by these NGO’s. The multiplier effect of them not being able to do their jobs will eventually spread to affect you, no matter how insulated you think you are from what is happening. The reason we have largely been able to stall the HIV epidemic is because of these NGO’s and the funding they receive from the United States. Your government has had to be literally forced to provide healthcare advice for at-risk people and treatment for people living with the virus. Once this funding is gone, the numbers will start to rise again.
Denying women access to abortions have never stopped women from getting them. It simply forces them to find riskier, more life-threatening alternatives. People will die because of the Global Gag rule, and while it might take a while, it will eventually be someone close to you. Let’s not wait until that happens before we say something.