Created: Friday, 10 February 2017 10:43
Written by Rachel Francis
President Trump’s reinstatement of the anti-abortion Mexico City Policy, dubbed the ‘global gag rule’, is a direct attack on the lives and health of women - primarily poor and black women - around the world. The policy, introduced by US President Reagan in 1984 and subsequently twice rescinded by Democrats and bought in again by Republicans, prevents US-funded overseas recipients from discussing abortion. Trump’s position on abortion has moved rapidly from a very limited ‘pro-choice’ stance to a deeply conservative position condemning abortion – he says he ‘hates’ it - and to public support for the reactionary, Christian, large and active ‘pro-life’ movement in the US, who are overwhelmingly his supporters. Trump’s latest incarnation of the gag rule, signed on 23 January, on his fourth day in office, is even more restrictive, reactionary and dangerous than has been seen before.
An attack on global health
US foreign aid has not been able to fund abortions directly since the 1973 Helms Amendment. The Mexico City Policy goes further, preventing international non-governmental organisations (NGOs) from receiving US money if they offer abortion-related information, services or referrals. Spending from other donors cannot be used for this purpose, including in countries where abortion is legal. Trump’s additions to the rule mean that not only will the $620 million USAID money, set aside yearly for family planning, be withheld from organisations offering abortion counselling or referrals, now so will the estimated $9.5 billion for ‘global health assistance furnished by all departments or agencies’.
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