Donald Trump wasted no time putting his anti-woman agenda into place after assuming the office of the Presidency last week. Just today, Trump reinstated the Global Gag Rule, which blocks U.S. foreign aid or other funding for organizations abroad that perform abortion, provide information related to abortion or make referrals for abortion care. The decision will endanger the lives of million of women around the world.
The Global Gag Rule, also known as the Mexico City Policy, was first established by President Ronald Reagan in 1984. Under the policy, which was done away with under Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, international nongovernmental health care organizations who so much as mention abortion to patients cannot receive funding for any of their services—even those unrelated to abortion care—from the U.S. Some of the organizations and health care clinics impacted by Trump’s reinstatement of the rule will shutter completely. Others will have to cut back on the services they can provide or, in an effort to comply, will no longer be able to connect women with safe providers of abortion care.
The United States currently directs about $600 million a year in family planning funding to organizations around the world, impacting an estimated 28 million women and preventing tens of thousands of maternal deaths annually. These organizations are already prohibited from using federal money for abortion care under the Helms Amendment; with Trump’s re-instatement of the Global Gag Rule, they will now be forced to choose between offering incomplete family planning services and resources or forgoing funding for their other programs—including maternity care, HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment, access to contraception, gynecological exams and more.
Let’s not mince words: The Global Gag Rule kills women. It is estimated that every year, over 28 million women and 3 million girls have unsafe abortions in developing countries each year. 6.9 million of those women are treated for complications related to unsafe abortions. 44,000 of them die. President Trump’s decision to reinstate this outdated and outrageous policy will lead to the deaths of thousands of women and the suffering of millions more every year.
“Reinstating the global gag rule returns us to disgraceful era that dishonored the American values of free speech and inflicted untold suffering on millions of women around the world,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said in a statement. “Two days after millions of people poured into the streets across America and throughout the world in support of women’s rights, the Trump Administration has silenced even the discussion of women’s reproductive choices.”
This move is only a signal of what’s yet to come. Trump promised to appoint anti-abortion Supreme Court Justices, and he has said that if Roe were overturned he would let states decide on abortion—putting women across the country at risk of losing critical access to legal health care. Vice President Mike Pence is also firmly anti-choice, and introduced bills while in Congress that echoed the Global Gag Rule. As Governor of Indiana, he signed several abortion restrictions into law.
Lawmakers like Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), however, will not stand idly by while the Trump administration re-ignites the war on women. “President Trump’s reinstatement of the Global Gag Rule ignores decades of research, instead favoring ideological politics over women and families,” Shaheen, who plans to introduce bipartisan legislation repealing the rule, said in a statement to The Hill. “I will continue to stand up to President Trump and Republican leadership in Congress who are intent on rolling back women’s access to reproductive healthcare.”