January 23 marked President Donald Trump’s first full workday in office, and at the top of his list of things to do: restore and expand the so-called Mexico City policy, or “global gag rule,” an order that prohibits international NGOs from receiving U.S. aid if they provide abortion services, or even “promote” abortion as a reproductive health option.
Although the policy has been imposed during every Republican administration since Ronald Reagan, President Trump’s goes a step further by broadening the measure to include any department or agency that offers global health assistance to countries in need.
Unlike former years, when the policy only pertained to international family-planning funds, Trump’s gag rule appears to apply to a broad range of services including H.I.V. prevention programs, access to contraception, and funding used to fight malaria, Zika, and Ebola.
Federal law under the 1973 Helms amendment already prevents international aid for abortions, but the gag rule further bans funding to NGOs that provide abortion or abortion referrals to women, regardless of whether they use their own private funds for the services.
“President Trump’s reinstatement of the global gag rule ignores decades of research, instead favoring ideological politics over women and families,” said Amu Singh Shaheen, president of the Family Planning Association of Nepal, in an interview with The Guardian. “We know that when family planning services and contraceptives are easily accessible, there are fewer unplanned pregnancies, maternal deaths and abortions.”
The policy is still being reviewed by reproductive health groups, but within that time, it’s clear the Trump administration intends to continue jeopardizing women’s reproductive rights, regardless of possibly devastating repercussions at home or abroad.