Impact of the “Domestic Gag Rule”

Impact of the “Domestic Gag Rule”

Article by Emmy Duerr In February of 2019, the Trump administration proposed changes to Title X’s family planning program that forbid Title X-funded clinics, such as Planned Parenthood, from performing some of their foundational services. Under the new propositions, providers and staff are not permitted to refer patients for abortion or accept funds to provide cancer and STI screenings, even if they use non-federal funds to fund abortion. In place of these services, the rule recommends referral for prenatal care and social services such as foster care or adoption. The Trump Administration’s proposed changes, widely known as the “domestic gag rule” went into effect on July 15, forcing Planned Parenthood to completely withdraw from the Title X program. Although the intention of the new ruling is to decrease domestic abortion rate, the consequences will likely reflect those of its international counterpart, the “global gag rule”. The rule is unlikely to decrease abortion because it reduces women’s access to a broad spectrum of reproductive health services including contraception, resulting in an increase in...
Read More

UK’s Commitment towards Global Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights

Article by Ramya Ginjupalli During the UN General Assembly on Universal Health Coverage, the UK’s International Development Secretary, Alok Sharma, pledged £600 million towards a “Reproductive Health Supplies programme” between 2020-20251. This program aims to provide up to 20 million women and girls with family planning services including the contraceptive pill, condoms, and safe abortions2. In addition, this program aims to prevent millions of unintended pregnancies, prevent over a million of unsafe abortions, and save thousands of women’s lives3. This commitment is in the wake of President Donald Trump’s reinstatement of the Mexico City policy, also known as the “Global Gag Rule”2. With new restrictions, this policy affects an additional $8 billion of United States’ aid2. According to a leaked letter, the United States also encouraged UN member states with a pro-life stance to join a coalition against the promotion of abortion in the United Nations2. In response to this, Mr. Sharma gave a speech renewing the UK’s commitment towards Universal Health...
Read More
Northern Ireland Makes Progress in Reproductive Rights

Northern Ireland Makes Progress in Reproductive Rights

Article by Jackie Vicksman After criminalizing abortion for more than a century, Northern Ireland has finally reached a breakthrough. Although the rest of the United Kingdom legalized abortion in the 1967 Abortion Act and the Republic of Ireland repealed its restrictive abortion laws in September of 2018, these laws did not extend to Northern Ireland, which maintained its extremely strict policies. Until now. Beginning October 22 of this year, women in Northern Ireland may be given the right to have an abortion in certain circumstances. This possibility is due to the fact that Northern Ireland has not had a functioning government for the past two years because of partisan conflict between Unionists and Republicans, as both parties have an agreement to share power equally in the country. As a result, the U.K. was able to sign an amendment that decriminalizes abortion in the region. The amendment will go into effect on October 21 if the government of Northern Ireland has not...
Read More

Sandra Oketch: The Voice of Cervical Cancer Prevention in Kisumu County

Sandra Oketch, the Kisumu Research Director for the Center has been making the rounds of the radio talk shows to share information about human papillomavirus testing in anticipation of this week’s cancer awareness activities. During this media blitz, Oketch has been speaking on radio shows in Luo, Kiswahili and English, she is working with key members of the Ministry of Health to raise awareness of cervical cancer, educate women on their risk and how to get screened. Activities will include in-person education, screening and a cancer awareness walk on the second and third of October. Key stakeholders will take advantage of the momentum to convene of meeting of partners actively engaged in cancer prevention and treatment to help develop a cancer prevention alliance that works synergistically, without duplication of activities. The First Lady of Kisumu, Dorothy Nyong’o, long a supporter of cancer control activities in the region, has promised to serve as a patron for the Kisumu County Cancer Alliance....
Read More
Trump, Faith, and Reproductive Healthcare

Trump, Faith, and Reproductive Healthcare

This summer I worked as a Legislative Assistant on the Government Relations, Advocacy, and Community Engagement (GRACE) team at the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) in Washington, DC.  The mission of the ADL is to stop the defamation of the Jewish people and secure justice and fair treatment for all. Among the organization's core policy issues is protecting religious freedom by ensuring separation of Church and State. The ADL advances separation of Church and State by filing amici briefs in nearly every religious freedom case. Moreover, the ADL supports legislation such as the Do No Harm Act that ensures religious freedom cannot be misused to discriminate. Throughout my internship, I had the opportunity to attend hearings, write blog posts, and write public comments in response to different issues related to religious freedom such as LGBTQ equality and access to healthcare. Throughout college, my policy interests have been focused on domestic and global women’s health issues. My passion for reproductive health is rooted in...
Read More
What I Learned

What I Learned

It’s been about a month since I returned from Kisumu, where I spent eight weeks working on the development of an mHealth pilot study at the Duke Center for Global Reproductive Health. I really feel that I gained so much out of those two months, and I’m hoping to bring these lessons with me to my senior year at Duke. I was able to experience what it really means to do research in the field, and that a lot of the time this means being flexible and prepared for plans to constantly change. The local team at the Center taught me the importance of communication and planning ahead, but how to also be ready for scheduling changes when working with outside teams. More than that though, the team showed me how easily one can feel connected to a new group of coworkers that welcome you with open arms. I think I speak for myself and the rest of the SRT...
Read More
Learning Backwards

Learning Backwards

I traveled this summer to Kisumu, Kenya expecting to work on a project we had poured hours of work into through the Center for Global Reproductive Health. After much time spent discussing our project, conducting literature reviews, and finalizing on our in-depth interview guides, it was disappointing to learn that we would not have our necessary IRB approvals for our project until after our departure from Kisumu. While we are glad to know that our project is in amazing hands here at the Center for Global Reproductive Health, it was frustrating to come to terms with the fact that we would not be the ones to carry out the interviews we had worked so hard on. As I look back on my summer, I am compelled to reflect on why this change of plans changed my trip for the better. Much discussion around research, especially when it comes to global health research, focuses on the importance of flexibility. Figuring out what...
Read More
Welcome Back!

Welcome Back!

With classes back in session, the halls are flowing with students talking about the trials and triumphs of their summers—whether they were in the field, interning in DC, trying out consulting work or just had an amazing vacation. The new school year brings with it a sense of new beginning and purpose—and sometimes an overwhelming feeling of everything needing to get “scheduled” during these first weeks of September.  A colleague recently started an email with the greeting: “did you have a relaxing or productive summer?  I feel like it’s either one or the other.”  It made me reflect on how we take advantage of being out of the classroom, trying to fit in various opportunities for travel, fieldwork and writing time that become harder during the semester, while also taking time to regroup and relax with family and friends. I hope everyone was able to have a little balance this summer, and come into the new school year with renewed...
Read More
Learning Lessons the Harder Way

Learning Lessons the Harder Way

Fieldwork is all about learning, and sometimes that means learning things the hard way. My summer in Kenya taught me a lot about app development, about the process of global health research, and, of course, about myself.  My apologies to those of you who have been following the student pieces throughout the summer, but I’ll give a quick summary of my thesis project for first time readers: mSaada is a mobile phone application intended for use by community health volunteers (CHVs) during cervical cancer screening in Western Kenya. The app has multiple features including patient education and counseling materials, protocol support for CHVs, and patient data collection capabilities, to name a few. We hope the app will increase patient understanding of HPV and cervical cancer and act as an efficient and effective resource for CHVs throughout the screening process, leading to greater uptake of cervical cancer screening and treatment services and ultimately improved health outcomes for Kenyan women. Since the app...
Read More
Post-Abortion Care in Kenya

Post-Abortion Care in Kenya

Abortion is a loaded term in the United States, conjuring up many years of history and debate from political, medical and social contexts. However, in Kenya, there are even more challenges around perception of and access to abortion and post-abortion care services. In 2010, the new Kenyan Constitution legalized abortion when a provider deems that life or health of a woman are in danger. Although this is less restrictive than previous legislation, abortion is generally considered illegal throughout the country. While post-abortion care has always been legal in Kenya, it remains stigmatized, particularly because most often post-abortion care occurs after unsafe abortions that are occurring in the community due to the current restrictive policies. Indeed, post-abortion care guidelines were restricted from use for a number of years due to worry that the post-abortion care guidelines would help individuals perform these services illegally and were just re-released in February of this year back to health facilities throughout the country. Despite the...
Read More