One of the first things Donald Trump did upon taking office was reinstate the Mexico City Policy, better known as the Global Gag Rule. The law prohibits global recipients of U.S. healthcare funding from mentioning abortion. For 35 years, every Republican administration has implemented the policy and every Democratic administration has revoked it. The Trump version of the policy is especially restrictive, expanding the prohibition to all groups receiving any funding from any U.S. department or agency.

Research consistently finds that restrictive policies affecting state abortion clinics harm women and girls. A new study directly links the Mexico City Policy to an increase in the abortion rate.

How Banning Abortion Discussions Might Increase the Abortion Rate

The study, authored by Yana ven der Meulen Rodgers of Rutgers University, is published in the new book The Global Gag Rule and Women’s Reproductive HealthFor the analysies, Rodgers analyzed data from 51 developing nations that included more than 6 million women each year. Using a regression analysis, she assessed the likelihood that a woman would have an abortion for years 2001-2008.

Rodgers found that Latin American women were about three times more likely to have an abortion during times when the Global Gag Rule was in effect. Abortion rates were about 23% at the beginning of the Clinton administration. After two terms of the Bush administration’s Mexico City Policy, abortion rates had risen to 32%.

Studies consistently find that banning abortion doesn’t stop women from seeking abortions. It just makes abortion less safe. Between 2010-2014, 75% of Latin American abortions were illegally performed. Just 23.6% of Latin American abortions were classified as safe. When El Salvador banned abortion, 11% of women who sought an abortion died.

The WHO reports that 47,000 women die from unsafe abortions each year. That accounts for 13% of maternal deaths. In nations where abortion is safe and legal, abortion-related deaths are almost nonexistent, and abortion is no more dangerous than minor dental surgery.

Does Banning Abortion Increase the Abortion Rate?

Anti-choice attacks on abortion have never been about protecting lives. Otherwise, right-wing politicians would be more concerned about how their policies drive unsafe abortions. Proving yet again that anti-choice laws are about punishing women and not saving lives, some research suggests that banning abortion may actually increase the abortion rate.

Latin American nations that ban abortion have higher abortion rates than the United States. The abortion rate is three times as high as in the U.S., at 44 abortions annually per 1,000 women. In the U.S., the abortion rate fell under President Obama. Many analysts think this was due to greater access to healthcare and family planning services.

Taken together, the data on the Global Gag Rule and nations that ban abortion point to a troubling conclusion: restrictive abortion policies don’t stop abortion, but they may increase the risk of dying from abortion.

That’s exactly the point. Punish women for having sex or choosing abortions at all costs—even when both the mother and the fetus die.