The Trump Administration’s Domestic Gag Rule

Since running for President and into his presidency, Donald Trump and his Administration have sought to undermine women’s access to reproductive health care. Last year, the Trump Administration proposed changes to Title X—which is federal grant program that provides funding for comprehensive family planning services. Known as the “domestic gag rule,” the proposed changes “gag” or bar healthcare providers from referring their patients to abortion providers. Moreover, the rule would drastically alter access to reproductive health care, including birth control and other family planning services, for millions of women who depend on Title X funded clinics. When the Administration released the final version of the rule changes, reproductive health organizations such as Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association immediately challenged the rule. Despite a preliminary injunction that prevented the rule’s implementation, on July 3, a panel of three judges lifted the injunction. Devastatingly, last week by 7-4...
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The Irony of the Mexico City Policy

In his first days as President of the United States, Donald Trump reinstated the Mexico City Policy. Also known as the Global Gag Rule, the policy “gags” international NGOs receiving U.S. aid by not allowing them to “perform or actively promote abortion as a method of family planning.” First enacted by President Ronald Reagan, U.S. funding for critical reproductive healthcare abroad has been a partisan issue ever since with every Republican President instating the policy and every Democratic repealing it. President Trump’s reinstatement of the policy greatly expanded its parameters and includes a wide range of global health programs such as HIV funding through PEPFAR (President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief). The expansion of the policy diminished the provision of services by international NGOS who weren’t previously affected by the policy and who feared losing critical funding from the U.S. Last week, a study published in the Lancet found that when the Mexico City Policy is instated, rates of abortion...
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New State Abortion Bans

  Photo Credits: John Benson After the recent passage of restrictive abortion legislation in Georgia and Alabama, abortion continues to be under attack across the country. The abortion bans signal continued attempts by states to undermine a woman’s right to access an abortion. Last week, Louisiana Democratic governor, John Bel Edwards, signed into law a restrictive “heartbeat” bill. The law, like other recent abortion legislation, would prohibit an abortion after an ultrasound detects electric pulsing of what will become a fetus’ heart—which can occur before most women know they are pregnant. Moreover, the Louisiana law does not include exceptions for rape or incest. Although the law will not go into effect immediately, it is likely to be stalled in the courts. In Missouri, only one abortion clinic remains open. If it closes, it would be the first time a state does not have an abortion clinic since 1974—when the Supreme Court ruled on Roe v. Wade. A judge is expected to a settle...
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Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women in Canada and United States

In 2014, Tina Fontaine, a member of the Sagkeeng First Nation in Canada was murdered. Her death garnered national attention as it highlighted the alarmingly high rate of violence against indigenous women in Canada. Such violence prompted the creation of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. After nearly three years of investigation, a report was published earlier this week that calls the treatment of indigenous women “a genocide.” The report included policy recommendations that seek to mitigate the violence and address its causes. As in Canada, native women in the United States disproportionately experience violence. A report conducted by the Department of Justice (DOJ) found that some counties in the U.S. have murder rates against indigenous women that are more than ten times the national average. Moreover, limited data and reporting on crimes against indigenous women and girls in the United States make it more difficult to understand the extent of the violence. According to a...
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Duke Students in Action

Duke Students in Action

This past year, I had the opportunity to work on a Bass Connections research team: Big Data for Reproductive Health (BD4RH). Bass Connections projects are interdisciplinary teams of undergraduate and graduate students, professors, and researchers. I became interested in reproductive health research after taking Dr. Megan Huchko’s global reproductive health course in the spring of 2017. It was through her course that I developed my understanding of and passion for reproductive health policy and gender equality. The BD4RH team reflected my passion for reproductive health through the project’s commitment to reduce contraceptive discontinuation rates.  The initial goals of our research were to create and disseminate data visualization tools that use reproductive health data from USAID’s Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS). The DHS collect data in over 80 different countries, and the surveys’ contraceptive calendar tracks women’s month-by-month contraceptive use over a five-year period. Our project began in the summer of 2018 when undergraduate student, Saumya Sao, and Masters student, Melanie Wai,...
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Alabama and Georgia Pass Restrictive Abortion Laws

  On Wednesday, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey signed into law the most restrictive anti-abortion legislation in the country. The bill not only bans abortion at nearly every stage of pregnancy, it also criminalizes the procedure for doctors who perform abortions. Although women who receive an abortion will not be prosecuted, the new law targets doctors who could face up to 99 years in prison for performing an abortion. The bill includes protections when a mother’s life is endangered, but it does not include exceptions for rape or incest. While the courts have continued to reaffirm a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion since the decision in Roe v. Wade, the Alabama law is most recent attempt to challenge the 1973 precedent. Since the beginning of 2019, nearly 300 restrictive abortion laws have been introduced in state legislatures across the country. Earlier this month, Georgia governor Brian Kemp signed into law a fetal heartbeat bill that prohibits abortion after a doctor can detect...
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