On day three of his presidency, Donald Trump flexed his executive action muscles to reinstate a policy that freezes American foreign aid to health providers across the globe that discuss abortion as part of family-planning, or advocate for it.

The Gag Rule

Also known as the "global gag rule," the law was first seen under the presidency of Ronald Reagan, was immediately repealed by Bill Clinton, reinstated by George W. Bush, then immediately repealed by Obama in 2008. 

The justification behind the policy is to decrease the number of abortions around the world.

But the records show a different story. Research shows that removing abortion as an option by outlawing or banning it doesn't actually decrease the number of abortions performed. It does, however, make them less safe.

But what is an "unsafe" abortion? 

When women do not have access to family planning and contraceptives for political, financial, or other reasons, they are more likely to choose abortion as a form of birth control. And when not given access to medically-guided safe, abortions, many take matters into their own hands or seek out illegitimate providers to perform the abortions for them at a low cost. 

A common way to perform an "at-home" abortion is to orally ingest fluids like bleach, turpentine, or even livestock manure mixtures in hopes of terminating the pregnancy. 

Some try to take a more direct route by inserting things into the cervix: from herbs to medications to chicken bones, twigs and coat hangers, many women risk their lives placing unsanitary, unsafe objects into their bodies. 

Other women may seek 'back-alley' abortions from unskilled providers in unsanitary conditions, which creates a great risk for health complications.

External injury is another common way women try to end their pregnancies. Inflicting blunt trauma to the uterine area and jumping off roofs or stairs have all been documented. 

What Happens After An Unsafe Abortion? 

The WHO estimates 21.6 million women experience unsafe abortions every year and 47,000 die from the complications, making unsafe abortion the number one cause of maternal mortality

That's right, unsafe abortions are the leading cause of death for mothers worldwide. Just let that sink in. Those who do survive unsafe abortions are often left with devastating consequences. 

An estimated 5 million women are hospitalized every year for abortion-related complications, including hemorrhage (heavy bleeding), sepsis, infection, and bowel issues.

Other risks to the uterus include incomplete abortion (or failure to fully remove or expel all of the pregnant tissue from the uterus) and uterine perforation (aka holes or pierces made when a sharp object pierces the uterus). The genital tract and other internal organs are also susceptible to permanent damage when unsafe objects are unskillfully inserted into the vagina or anus.

Left untreated or without adequate treatment, many of these complications lead to extreme illness, and often death. Abortion-related deaths leave 220,000 children motherless every year. And when children don't have a mother, they are more likely to become ill, fail to thrive, and ultimately have a greater risk of poverty. 

Then, of course, there is the potential for psychological complications that may be sparked or exacerbated by unsafe abortions, and may burden a mother for the rest of her life. 

Will This Save Money?

No, in fact, like many preventive public health programs, this is an example of "spend a little now to save a lot later."  With unsafe abortions on the rise, more women are likely to be emitted to emergency care post-abortion and may require intensive care and medications.

Oftentimes, the finances of emergency care fall onto the hospital or healthcare system, which means there are fewer resources for all

What Can You Do?

Call your senators and let them know how you feel about this. You can also donate to women's health foundations like PAI and vote for politicians who support international health care policies. Mid-term elections are happening in 2018. Just sayin'.