Presidents of key organisations supporting the rights of women and girls across the world are calling on Theresa May to raise the crucial issue of sexual and reproductive health with the US President Donald Trump during their bilateral talks.
In a joint letter, Professor Lesley Regan, President of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG), and Dr Asha Kasliwal, President of the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare (FSRH), write:
“As Presidents of organisations that support the rights of women and girls across the world to access safe, high-quality family planning, contraception, abortion and post-abortion services, we urge you to raise the Mexico City Policy, also known as the Global Gag Rule, with the US President during your talks.
“The Mexico City Policy has seriously damaged family planning programmes in many countries and the communities they serve, increasing the risk of unintended pregnancies and unsafe abortions. So far, the policy has affected 880 million women in over 37 countries.
“The Mexico City Policy has particularly affected family planning in developing countries where abortion is often unsafe and a major cause of maternal morbidity and mortality. In developing regions, 6.9 million women were treated for complications from unsafe abortion in 2012. More than 22,000 women die every year because of unsafe abortion, almost all of them in developing countries.
“We know that access to contraception contributes to reducing maternal deaths by up to 44% globally, and achieving Sustainable Development Goal 5: achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.
“Worldwide, an estimated 25 million unsafe abortions occur each year, even though abortion is a simple and safe procedure when properly performed.
“Contrary to what its proponents allege, the Mexico City Policy (like other restrictive abortion policies) does not stop women from seeking abortions. Rather, it reduces women’s access to high-quality contraceptive services and contributes to the very thing it purportedly seeks to reduce: the likelihood of abortion.
“On behalf of the girls and women across the globe, we urge you to raise the issue of access to sexual and reproductive health care with the US President during your talks.”