Global health anthropology

On abortion, the global GAG rule and local context

Marte Haaland and Joseph Mumba Zulu have published a comment in The Lancet Global Health on abortion, the global GAG rule and the importance of local context.

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PhD-candidate Marte Haaland from the Global Health Anthropology research group has written the Comment together with her Zambian colleague, Assistant Professor Joseph Mumba Zulu from School of Public Health, University of Zambia, Lusaka Zambia.

Read their comment titled Situating the Mexico City Policy: what shapes contraceptive access and abortion? here.

They write that the mechanisms of global reproductive governance are sometimes subtle. They are commenting on an article in The Lancet, “USA aid policy and induced abortion in sub-Saharan Africa: an analysis of the Mexico City Policy” by Brooks et al., which states:

“Our findings suggest that curbing US assistance to family planning organisations, especially those that consider abortion as a method of family planning, increases abortion prevalence in sub-Saharan African countries most affected by the policy.”

[The American ‘Mexico City Policy’ was first implemented in 1984, and has been implemented and rescinded several times since, most recently being re-implemented by President Trump in 2017.]

In their Comment, Zulu and Haaland highlight the need to:

“situate these global mechanisms in the specific contexts where they take effect. Our examples from Zambia describe a complex web of socially, morally, and politically embedded factors that along with the Mexico City Policy have implications for contraceptive use and abortions.”

Both researchers work with the SAFEZT project, which examines global and national policy discourses surrounding fertility control and abortion, and local practices and moralities related to these issues among adolescents in Ethiopia, Zambia and Tanzania.


Other related media articles.

The original article is also featured in Bistandsaktuelt: “Trump-munnkurv fører til flere og farligere aborter (in Norwegian)».

In relation to the comment in The Lancet, Haland has been interviewed in the Norwegian newspaper Vårt Land. Find the story here (in Norwegian, subscription article): USA-politikk fører trolig til flere aborter