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Measuring Returns to Reproductive Health Services: The Impact of the Global Gag Rule

  • 2008-2010
  • Project
Jones, Kelly, University of California Berkeley

Study: “Measuring Returns to Reproductive Health Services: The Impact of the Global Gag Rule”
PI: Jones, Kelly
Affiliation: University of California Berkeley
Funding Partner: IIE
Project Dates:
Start: 2008
End: 2010
Data Source(s): DHS Data
Method(s): MV Analysis
Geographic Location: Ghana

The aim of this study is to measure the impact of reproductive health services (RHS) on indicators of health and well-being. The research examined the impact of decreased availability of RHS as a result of the U.S. policy known as the global gag rule. According to NGO statements, collaborative reports by advocacy groups, news articles, and commentary in health journals, the global gag rule slashed funding to NGOs that provide RHS in the developing world. Key findings show that there was no evidence that any demographic group reduces use of abortion as a result of policy. In fact, rural women increase abortions by almost 50 percent during policy implementation times, although there is little change in abortion rates for urban women and the poorest women due to cost prohibitions. The policy-induced budget cuts force NGOs to stop rural outreach of contraceptive services, which increases the number of pregnancies, abortions, and unintended births. Unintended births occur mostly among the poorest and least-educated women who are least likely to abort their pregnancy. Unwanted births during these periods have significantly higher rates of stunting and wasting relative to siblings. Policy actually increased pregnancy, abortion, and unintended births, with children more likely to have lower nutritional outcomes. Additionally, dependence of the reproductive-health sector on international assistance makes it vulnerable to budget changes based on desires of donor-country domestic policies. Ultimately, the importance of family planning programs in developing countries in reducing unwanted pregnancies and births in rural areas should be stressed because they have the potential to affect children’s growth and future well-being.

Research Outputs:

Jones, Kelly. (2011). Evaluating the Mexico City Policy: How US foreign policy affects fertility outcomes and child health in Ghana (International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) Discussion Paper No. 01147).

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