In April, the UN Population Fund was one of the first under the "Mexico City policy" to lose US funds for allegedly participating in or supporting "coercive" abortions in China. Now that policy is being extended, with an announcement Monday from the State Department that more US funds will be withdrawn worldwide, affecting around $8.8 billion in health funding and pulling resources away from clinics that combat AIDS and malaria (among other issues), especially in Africa, the New York Times reports. Any international nongovermental groups wanting US financial assistance will now have to sign off on the "Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance" mandate, per NBC News. The State Department says any funds that are taken away from one group will be redistributed to others that agree to the terms, keeping the foreign aid level relatively the same.
The expanded mandate means groups who want US money must not "promote abortion as a method of family planning." The gag rule ups the amount being affected from between $520 million and $600 million under former President George W. Bush to about $8.8 billion, with public health advocates noting funding will be severed in places that need it most, such as West Africa. "Whole communities could be cut off," one advocate tells the Times. In a tweet Monday, National Right to Life applauded the move "to apply pro-life conditions to a broad range of health-related US foreign aid." But in a statement, New Hampshire Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen says Trump's "dangerous obsession" against reproductive rights will now have "severe consequences for millions of vulnerable women and children." The State Department says the policy will be eyed over the next six months. (Read more abortion stories.)