Sexual and reproductive health advocates in Africa have welcomed the news that US President Joe Biden has reversed a ban on federal funds going to international aid groups that perform or inform about abortions.
Some sexual health clinics in Africa were forced to close after 2017 when US President Donald Trump cut funding to organisations that provide contraception and safe abortion services.
Nelly Munyasia, head of Reproductive Health Network Kenya, said that what was known as the “global gag rule” had made it difficult for her organisation to offer help to women in the last few years.
“Women and girls died as a direct result of the ‘gag rule’ – those who could no longer get HIV and cancer screening, or who without contraception and reproductive health care resorted to unsafe abortions. Repeal will save lives and it should be permanent,” she told the BBC.
Moses Mulumba, from the Center for Health, Human Rights and Development in Uganda, said that the “gag rule” demonstrated the consequences of repressive political decisions from other countries and how they affected populations in low and middle-income countries.
“As a result of the ‘global gag rule’, my organisation… had to close down our work halfway into a four-year, USAid-funded project on advocacy for better health, despite progress and our good performance on the project,” he told the BBC.
Its repeal will mean more women can get essential reproductive health care, including contraceptives, but also HIV and cancer screening and other life-saving services.