This post originally appeared on the Linked Foundation website on February 16, 2017. The Linked Foundation has been my client since 2014. I play a leading role in guiding the foundation's grant making and program related investment strategy and research and learning activities.
In 2017 we find ourselves assessing a new global health landscape, and a shifting set of challenges. The reinstatement of the Global Gag Rule (or “Mexico City Policy”) by the Trump administration means that organizations worldwide providing women’s health services will lose significant funding, and the women they serve will suffer the consequences. Populations to suffer the most will be those most dependent upon NGO and private sources of care; in other words, the poorest and most marginalized.
The Gag Rule states that any organization receiving US government funding must agree not to provide or even mention abortion as any part of its services, including counseling or referral, even if those services are delivered using other sources of funding. PAI estimates that the amount of government funding to global health organizations that will be subjected to the rule is $9.5 billion. The global health community agrees that such a potentially huge loss of funding to organizations that provide reproductive health services will result in an increase of unintended pregnancies, an increase in unsafe abortions, and as a result, increased maternal mortality. We will be monitoring US policy changes that may impact women’s health care in the United States as well.
At Linked Foundation, our mission is to support the health and economic self-reliance of women and their families in Latin America and the US. To-date, we have done this by supporting a number of social enterprises and NGOs providing a range of health services, from microfinance + health education, to rural pharmacies, to holistic diabetes care and more. In light of both the continued need for reproductive health services and the potential impact of new regulation that will severely limit funding for this type of care, Linked Foundation has made a strategic decision that all support to new organizations in 2017 will be to those with an explicit reproductive health focus.
In the coming months we will be reaching out and connecting with organizations in Latin America and the US that provide these critical women’s health services – pelvic exams, cervical cancer screening, contraceptives, prenatal and maternal care, and more – to learn about their work and any opportunities for partnership. We will also convene funders with similar objectives to engage in shared-learning and funding opportunities. Through partnerships with organizations and like-minded funders working on the front lines to assure continued access to reproductive health care, we aim play a role in counteracting the potentially devastating effects of these new policies on the health and wellbeing of women in the Americas.