Donald Trump’s war on reproductive rights through cuts to federal funding for women’s health care may be getting all the headlines at home, but his extended version of the Global Gag Rule is affecting the reproductive rights of women all around the world.
The global gag rule, also known as the Mexico City Policy, prohibits organizations that receive American funding from advising women on the option of abortion, even in cases where it will save their lives.
On his first full day in office, Donald Trump re-instituted the Mexico City Policy which dates back to the Reagan era, banning U.S. funding of any international organizations performing abortions. Established by Reagan in 1984, the gag was rescinded by Clinton then revived by Bush only to be squashed by Obama.
Under Trump the gag has not only been revived but this outdated conservative policy has been beefed up and extended (as of May 2017) to prohibit funding for any organizations “actively promoting” abortion as a reproductive health choice. The extended gag rule cuts funding for organizations that even inform women of the options available in countries where abortion is legal.
Trump’s expanded version of the policy is dubbed “America’s Deadly Export” by ForeignPolicy.com because it aggressively includes all medical funding instead of targeting organizations involved directly in providing or advocating for abortion
While the Mexico City Policy was applied specifically to US family planning funding amounting to less than $600 million annually, the new expanded gag affects the important and life-saving work of all organizations working to combat global health issues from Malaria to maternal and infant mortality.
Numerous organizations that benefit from around $9 billion in annual U.S funding for health and social programs around the globe, now have to exclude advice on abortion as a reproductive health option from any and all programs including general health and social upliftment programs.
According to Human Rights Watch: “Trump’s policy extends restrictions to an estimated $8.8 billion in US global health assistance, including funding support for family planning and reproductive health, maternal and child health, nutrition, HIV/AIDS”
In less-developed countries where maternal mortality rates are high, the effects of this gag will be felt the most. The repercussions are being felt throughout public health assistance initiatives in the developing world and specifically in the deterioration of family planning and reproductive health programs around the globe.
EngenderHealth has documented the effects of previous versions of the global gag in Nepal, Kenya and Zambia, noting that “in each of these places, the Global Gag Rule affected family planning, HIV services, maternal and child health, and even malaria services. And in no place did the policy reduce abortions. In fact, the irony is that this policy led to more unwanted pregnancies.”
PIA has launched a campaign against the global gag, calling it an assault on women everywhere that is “risking women’s health and lives by forcing foreign NGOs to choose between receiving U.S. global health assistance and providing comprehensive sexual and reproductive health care.”
Other campaigns mounting against Trump’s expanded global gag include She Decides – a fund established by the Dutch government which has raised substantial funds to support organizations promoting reproductive rights and #Fight4HER a campaign that seeks to raise the volume of voices from around the world condemning the destructive and senseless global gag on a woman’s right to choose.