U.S Abortion Funding Cuts Hit Indian NGOs PDF Print E-mail

Source: http://epaperbeta.timesofindia.com

US President Donald Trump's reinstatement of the `global gag rule', banning federal funding for organisations that provide information on terminating pregnancy, is expected to reduce fund flows into India by at least $10 million, or about Rs 68 crore, denying abortion-related services to thousands of women, according to estimates by NGOs working in this area.

Nearly seven million women across developing countries are treated for complications from unsafe abortions attempts every year and out of them nearly 22,000 die, according to a study by World Health Organisation (WHO) and Lancet.

According to WHO's World Health Statistics (WHS) 2016, nearly five women die every hour in India due to complications during childbirth, and the country accounted for 17% of maternal deaths across the world.

While India has managed to bring down maternal mortality rate (MMR) significantly over the years, non-government organisations working in this field say that one of the leading causes of such deaths is unsafe abortion.

And Trump's rule is set to severely impact their work to provide abortion services and advices to Indian women, particularly in rural areas lacking proper health facilities, they said.

“We expect that in times to come, we may have to close our outreach services, satellite centres and reduce the staff strength due to such reductions (in funding). It will hit the programme very hard“, said Kalpana Apte, general secretary of Family Planning Association of India (FPA) that provides post-abortion contraceptive, counselling and follow-up services with doctors to about 2.1 million people across 18 states in the country.

The anti-abortion rule -introduced by Ronald Reagan in 1984 and since then implemented by every Republican government and renounced by every Democratic government --pre vents international organisations from receiving any US global health assistance if they provide, counsel, refer or advocate for abortion services, even if they are doing so with their own, non-US funds, and even if abortion is legal in their country.

“The previous US governments, too, never directly financed abortion-related work, but the present rule prohibits even referral works that an organisation might be doing through other donors money,“ said Vinoj Manning, executive director of Delhi-based India Development Foundaganisation that works tion (IDF), an organisation that works towards preventing unsafe abortions in India.

In India abortions are legal under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act of 1971that was enacted with an intention of bringing down illegal abortions in the country.

There are more than 10 NGOs in the country working to prevent unsafe abortions, and almost all of them receive international aid. These organisation now face funding cuts on their other areas of work as well.

FPA, for example, is concerned that its other core programmes that address health and disease issues including HIVAIDS, maternal and child health, cervical cancer screening, gender-based violence will be affected by Trump's rule. “It will set back years of gains made to advance the health and wellbeing of communities worldwide and could undercut health care access for millions worldwide,“ Apte said.

FPA is part of International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), a prochoice non-governmental organisation that provides reproductive health and family planning services in 189 countries. IPPF is expecting a $100 million cut in its funding because of the US rule.