On Saturday, thousands of women marched on Washington, as well as in hundreds of cities around the nation and the world for the protection of their rights.
And just two days after it, US President Donald Trump signed off on the first anti-abortion policy of his term, which of course was expected.
Because as a tradition, it has been reinstituted by every Republican president via executive order since Ronald Reagan, but rescinded by Democrat presidents.
On January 23, he reinstated the Mexico City Policy via presidential memorandum issuing a ban on providing foreign aid or federal funding to international groups that perform abortions.
Text of Pres. Trump’s executive action on reinstating “Mexico City Policy,” a ban on federal money for int’l groups that perform abortions. pic.twitter.com/kDTTb7FgVO— NBC Nightly News (@NBCNightlyNews) January 23, 2017
Donald’s Monday reinstatement therefore, reverses Barack Obama’s executive order that lifted the ban in 2009.
What is the Mexico City Policy?
The Mexico City Policy ( also known as Global Gag Rule), established by Republican President Ronald Reagan in 1984, forbids non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that receive U.S. funds from providing or promoting abortions, as a method of family planning, overseas.
Simply put, U.S. taxpayer dollars will not be supporting organizations that promote or participate in conducting an abortion.
The policy also prohibits these organizations from advocating for the passage of pro-abortion laws in other countries. Critics call it the ‘gag rule’ because US-funded health workers can’t even talk about it for the sake of educating women and families about their options.
How will it impact women across the world?
- The ban will severely impact foreign organizations such as the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPFF), which provides family planning services in more than 180 countries.
- And it goes without saying that the ban will be brutal for women’s health in poor countries who are devoid of information and avenues regarding their reproductive choices as it clearly infringes upon their fundamental right to make informed decisions about their bodies.
- It could prove disastrous for women and girls in developing countries and conflict zones, who often resort to dangerous methods of ending their pregnancies when they lack access to safe abortion. More than 21 million women a year have unsafe abortions in developing countries, accounting for about 13 percent of all maternal deaths, according to WHO.
- In absence of this policy, maternal deaths, unintended pregnancies, and rates of unsafe abortion are likely to increase thus burdening health organisations around the world.
- Every time the gag rule returns, more women in developing countries die due to unwanted pregnancies or unsafe abortions. In 2011, a study published by the WHO, found that abortion rates actually went up 40% the last time the gag rule was in place, under President George W. Bush.
- In countries most heavily affected by the policy, contraceptive use dropped, and a woman’s odds of having an unsafe abortion were more than two times higher after the policy went into effect.
- Curtailed funding is also expected to lead to staff reduction and clinic closures thus affecting health services globally.
What do critics say?
Anti-abortion groups have hailed Trump’s move calling him pro-life.
“Life is a precious and sacred gift, and we must do all we can to protect it. I applaud President Trump for taking this important action and look forward to continuing to work together in advancing pro-life policies and protecting taxpayer dollars,” said Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Texas), chairman of the House’s health subcommittee.
On the other hand, Democrats denounced the order as an effort to “silence the discussion of women’s reproductive choices.”
Ever since Donald Trump started his presidential campaign, his stance towards women was seen as repressive and this order only signals the beginning of a long fight over abortion that is likely continue throughout his presidency.
MYTH: Trump bans taxpayer $ for abortion overseas.FACT: #GlobalGagRule kills funding for ANY health center that even *mentions* abortion. pic.twitter.com/4Pq6741VwB— NARAL (@NARAL) January 23, 2017
NARAL Pro-Choice America also said in a statement, ”With this action, Donald Trump has turned his anti-women rhetoric into policy, and made it more difficult for women and families all over the world to access vital reproductive care. He really is living up to the lowest of expectations.”