Trump Didn't Just Revive 'Gag Rule'; It's Now 'on Steroids'

It will affect $9.5B in US foreign aid, explains Michelle Goldberg, up from $600M
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 25, 2017 2:32 PM CST
President Donald Trump signs an executive order on Monday.   (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

(Newser) – Every Republican president since Ronald Reagan has reinstated the global gag rule or Mexico City policy—which prevents federal money from going to international family planning groups that provide abortions or abortion information—just as every Democrat president has rescinded it. But Donald Trump "massively expanded" it Monday, Michelle Goldberg writes at Slate, applying the rule not only to family planning groups but "to global health assistance furnished by all departments or agencies." Suzanne Ehlers of Population Action International tells Goldberg exactly what the means: The rule previously affected about $600 million in US foreign aid. Under Trump, it will affect $9.5 billion. In other words, it's the global gag rule "on steroids," Ehlers says.

Goldberg explains the implications, noting a tiny health clinic helping to prevent the spread of AIDS in Kenya could be denied funding if it can't prove that "it never referred any of its patients to an abortion provider." The director of the White House Office of National AIDS Policy under George W. Bush notes Bush specifically left AIDS relief funding out of the global gag rule when he reinstated it because it would have made the work of such clinics "impossible." He adds he "would not necessarily be surprised" if Trump's decision to expand the rule was "a reaction to the women's marches." Whatever the motive, a senior fellow at the United Nations Foundation tells Goldberg that the move is "truly shocking." Read the piece in full here. (Read more opinion stories.)

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