Young black woman with short ringlets and with a kind of sad expression

At first glance, there is not much in common between the 19-year-old single mother living in the Kibera slum of Kenya pictured here and the Ohio State students pictured below. More than 7,800 miles separate them, they’ve never met and they lead very different lives, but one issue connects them.

Mercy is a patient at her local Family Health Options Kenya (FHOK) clinic, which no longer receives federal aid from the U.S. because of Trump’s Global Gag Rule. Mercy depends on the health care and family planning services FHOK provides to give her daughter the best possible life, and these Ohio State students are fighting to make sure those services stay available to Mercy. They volunteer their time and efforts to resist and organize against this dangerous policy.  

People everywhere deserve access to affordable, comprehensive reproductive healthcare, but Trump is working relentlessly to block access. Days after assuming office, Trump reinstated and expanded the Global Gag Rule, which prohibits providers and nurses in international clinics that receive U.S. funding from discussing abortion with their patients regardless of the circumstance, including rape and incest.

This policy forces healthcare providers to make an impossible choice between accepting desperately needed funding from the U.S at the expense of their patients or forgoing aid to provide their patients with comprehensive reproductive healthcare. Providers who refuse the terms of Trump’s Global Gag Rule often struggle to stay open. FHOK has already been forced to shut down two clinics since the implementation of Trump’s Global Gag Rule, leaving hundreds of women just like Mercy without access to essential services including family planning, cervical cancer screenings, HIV testing/treatment, and primary care for children.

When a similar policy was in effect between 2001 and 2008, unsafe abortion rates in several African countries more than doubled. This policy is ineffective and deadly; 47,000 women die every year from complications of unsafe abortion, nearly all in developing countries. It’s clear that this policy is an attempt by the administration to promote their ideologies at the expense of women’s health.

Eight Ohio State students and dozens of other volunteers are fighting to permanently repeal the Global Gag Rule by rallying support for the Global Health, Empowerment, and Rights (HER) Act. Throughout this summer they have been petitioning at events around Columbus, raising awareness on the appalling consequences of Trump’s Global Gag Rule, and garnering support for the Global HER Act. With more than 1,000 petitions from people all over Columbus urging their elected officials to stand up for reproductive rights around the world, 12 small businesses endorsements in the Short North and Clintonville, and collaborations with multiple community organizations, it is clear that a diverse range of people care about this issue here in Columbus.

We can no longer stand for elected officials undermining access to comprehensive reproductive healthcare. It is up to us to show decision-makers like Sen. Rob Portman how much Columbus cares about this issue, and pressure him to sign the Global HER Act. It’s time to organize, make our voices heard, and stand up for Mercy, and the countless other women affected by the Global Gag Rule. If you’re interested in joining the #Fight4HER, email Katie Richardson at

About the author: Katie Richardson is a rising senior at Ohio State studying biomedical engineering. She is the Media and Visibility Coordinator for the #Fight4HER campaign here in Columbus. You can contact her at or 216-924-0525.