Check out Amy Goodman of Democracy Now!'s fantastic interview with Nigerian doctor and country director for Ipas, Dr. Ejike Oje, about his testimony at the House Committee hearing on the Mexico City Policy. The policy is also known as the "Global Gag Rule" for its directive that prevents U.S. funded health centers in Latin America, Asia, and Africa from discussing abortion – even mentioning abortion in any context- or referring for abortion services.
The hearing was the first congressional hearing dedicated to the Global Gag Rule and its impact on family planning and reproductive health programs globally. The policy has had an extraordinarily destructive effect on health services for women and families in countries where health clinics are denied much-needed U.S. funds. According to Democracy Now!:
Critics charge that this forces foreign NGOs to choose between vital U.S. assistance for essential family planning services and the real needs of women dealing with unwanted pregnancies. Nigeria has the second highest maternal mortality rate in the world, in large part due to unsafe abortions and lack of access to reproductive healthcare.
The testimony has some golden nugget moments. Dr. Gillespie, another key witness testifying against the global gag rule, was questioned by a pro-life Senator who started in on a bizarre diatribe about personhood and fetuses; and that most Americans are seeing ultrasounds and "deciding that's a person." Thankfully, Dr. Gillespie cut him off by saying:
"And we can debate that issue. That's our right. We can have this discussion here. But if I were a representative of a foreign NGO, say in Ghana, and I wanted USAID funds, we wouldn't be able to even have this discussion."