Nana, a 24-year-old woman living in the small rural village of Betsingilo, Madagascar, has never heard of Donald Trump. But the U.S. president’s controversial decision to expand the so-called “Global Gag Rule” and bar aid organizations that perform, promote, or provide information about abortions from receiving any of the U.S.’s $8.8 billion budget for global health is having a ripple effect across the world. And for many, the policy is threatening dire consequences. For Nana, The Washington Post reports, the decision could potentially end her access to birth control and even medical services, a situation that is now being faced by impoverished women living in vulnerable communities all over the globe.
Madagascar, a country that has relatively few foreign donors and an estimated 350,000 women who are only able to receive family-planning services from mobile clinics that travel directly to rural villages, is already feeling the consequences of the change in American aid policy. Nana, a farmer who grows cassava and maize to feed herself and her two children, became the first woman in her community to get long-term contraception — a hormonal implant that can last up to three years — after Betsingilo was visited by a mobile clinic from Marie Stopes, a London-based aid group that lost around $30 million in U.S. aid in 2017 after it refused to stop including abortion information in family planning services.
“I decided to use family planning because I’m not married and no one will help me raise my children,” Nana told The Washington Post, explaining that adding another mouth to feed would likely leave the family destitute. “I wasn’t sad because I don’t have anyone to take care of my children.”
But due to the dramatic drop in funding, programs such as the mobile clinics that were once funded by U.S. aid are now facing budget shortfalls. Already, the number of operations that clinics perform has dropped by half, and the group fears that they may have to cut the program altogether.
“Our staff are losing focus on their work because they are worried about their futures,” acknowledged Marie Stopes Madagascar Director Lalaina Razafinirinasoa in August. She said she remains hopeful that they can combat the shortfall with private donations, but that she has already had to begin drafting termination letters to prepare for the worst case scenario.
Watch video of The Post’s interview with Nana below
Read the full story at The Washington Post.