“The War on Women is clearly on,” says Rebecca Sheehan, program director of Gender Studies at Macquarie University and Visiting Fellow at US Studies Centre. “He has clearly stated he’s anti abortion – in this incarnation – and has threatened to stack the Supreme Court with conservative minded Justices, which doesn’t bode well for Roe Vs Wade Amendment,” she says. “It’s a message that women cannot ignore.”
Also known as the Mexico City Policy, The Global Gag Rule isn’t an original idea.
It was introduced during the Reagan Administration in 1984 and it has become somewhat of a political tradition for the incoming president to repeal or re-enact depending on whether they’re Democrat or Republican.
Obama, a champion of women’s rights, repealed the gag three days after taking office.
“The gag also covers agencies discussing family planning and contraception,” explains Rebecca Sheehan. “So women are effectively not going to have options, despite the fact that it’s been proven that the prohibition of abortion doesn’t work and when you take it away you’re increasing death rates; it’s cowardly and inhumane.”
Just before you breathe a sigh of relief that you’re an Australian, remember that we have, in fact, headed down the same road. Conservative senator Bill Harradine introduced the exact same leglisation into parliament under John Howard's era, as reported in Marie Claire Australia, 2007, and it was passed.
Thankfully, it was repealed when Labor last won government.
“We abolished John Howard’s prohibition, which stopped Australian aid money going to organisations that delivered family planning services. Labor also doubled aid funding for family planning services,” says Tanya Pilbersek, MP, says.
“Australia must stand up against this,” says the MP. “I will fight any effort by the Liberals to strip aid from family planning services in developing countries.”
If ever there was a call to arms, this is it. The health and lives of women in developing countries shouldn’t be subject to the whims of white men in an American office.