Trump misses mark in SA

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But, say local experts, that is only because the gag has effectively been in place for years as an earlier condition of US funding.

This week Trump reinstated the policy, known as the “Mexico City policy”, which stops the funding of abortion services by any US federal government-funded NGOs or clinics across the world after it was revoked by Barack Obama.

US embassy spokesman Cynthia Harvey said: “No US agency is currently funding abortion abroad, including in South Africa.”

This means the policy will not directly stop the provision of abortion in South Africa at the few state facilities that offer it.

But specialist of obstetrics and gynaecology in the Mpumalanga health department Eddie Mhlanga said the new US policy could have consequences.

He said it would stop any NGOs that offered HIV services and prevention options from giving women who came for ARVs information about termination even if they had an unwanted pregnancy.

He said the state had been “captured by Americans” and that funding had allowed the US a huge say over South Africa’s health policy.

Private termination of pregnancy provider Marie Stopes confirmed the services it offered in 14 centres in seven cities would continue as it receives no US funding for its South African operations.

South Africa will receive about $250-million (about R3.4-billion) from the US government towards tuberculosis and HIV prevention and treatment programmes this year.

Some of this money is spent on clinics helping young women with managing HIV.

Anova Health Institute, an NGO that receives US funding, said it did not promote abortion as a method of family planning at its clinics or in its programmes.

“But where necessary Anova staff would respond to a question about where a safe, legal abortion may be obtained when a woman who is already pregnant clearly states that she has decided to have a legal abortion in South Africa,” spokesman Tanja Bencun-Roberts explained.

Marion Stevens, co-ordinator of Women in Sexual and Reproductive Rights and Health, said Trump’s order was already enforced locally as the Department of Health did not promote the legal right to termination of pregnancy for fear of losing US funds.

This fear of losing money arose, she said, because the global gag order was in place during the Bush administration, when South Africa started receiving US funding for its HIV programmes.

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