Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Trump Didn't Just Reinstate the Global Gag Rule. He Massively Expanded It.

Slate (January 24, 2017): Trump Didn't Just Reinstate the Global Gag Rule. He Massively Expanded it, by Michele Goldberg:

Earlier this week, President Trump signed an executive order banning U.S. aid to organizations overseas that provide, counsel or advocate for changes in abortion law.  This funding restriction, known as "the Global Gag Rule" has been a political football in the U.S. for the last thirty years.  Instituted by Ronald Reagan in 1984, it was rescinded by Bill Clinton in 1993, reinstated by George W. Bush in 2001, and rescinded again by Barack Obama in 2009. While the rapid shift of U.S. policy makes for a good photo op for incoming presidents, the flip flop in funding has real consequences for organizations on the ground trying to provide reproductive health care services in poor countries.

A few important points to note here.  First, the Global Gag Rule goes much farther than prohibiting the use of U.S. funds for abortion.  The rule prohibits organizations from using their own funds to provide abortions and it prohibits the organizations from counseling clients that abortion is an option or advocating for reform of abortion law.  These prohibitions place health care providers in a serious ethical quandary.  As a result many organizations may refuse U.S. funding.  Ironically, the resulting cuts in family planning services is likely to increase the number of unwanted pregnancies and the number of abortions. Second, Trump's version of the Global Gag Rule goes even further than his predecessors'.  In the past the Global Gag Rule has only be tied to U.S. family planning funding. Trump's version applies to all U.S. international health care funding. According to [Suzanne] Ehlers [of PAI], the new rule means that rather than impacting $600 million in U.S. foreign aid, the global gag rule will affect $9.5 billion. Organizations working on AIDS, malaria, or maternal and child health will have to make sure that none of their programs involves so much as an abortion referral


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