Trump administration expands pro-life Mexico City Policy

President Donald Trump speaks during the 36th annual National Peace Officers Memorial Service Monday

Shortly after taking office, President Donald Trump signed an executive order re-instituting the Mexico City policy, also know as the global gag rule, which prevents groups that provide or promote abortion overseas from receiving US aid money.

On May 14th, President Donald Trump issued a statement in honor of National Women's Health Week, pledging to "recognize the importance of providing women access to the best, evidence-based health information and care". His version of the policy not only includes family planning organizations, but all global health organizations that receive US funding.

The new policy means that $8.8bn in United States assistance to an array of programmes fighting HIV/AIDS, malaria and maternal and child health will be subject to the so-called Mexico City policy.

The State Department could not give specifics on how numerous partners in programs such as PEPFAR, which comprises $6 billion of the affected funding, it anticipated refusing to sign on to the new terms.

Previously the policy only applied to family planning assistance provided by the State Department and USAID.

Yesterday, his administration took further executive action to modernize the policy, applying it to all foreign-health assistance provided by government agencies, including the State Department, U.S. Agency for International Development, the Office of the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator, and the Defense Department. While hardly unexpected, the more expansive scope of the Trump administration's Mexico City Policy has dismayed NGOs who stand to lose a significant chunk of their funding - which they say will have a devastating impact.

The pro-life policy will apply to global health assistance funding for worldwide health programs, such as those for HIV/AIDS, maternal and child health, malaria, global health security, and family planning and reproductive health", a White House official told "The Brody File. The change also doesn't decrease the total funding for global health assistance, according to a State Department official.

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"This policy is sure to tragically increase the number of unintended pregnancies, unsafe abortions and women dying from pregnancy-related complications around the world", said Latanya Mapp Frett, executive director of Planned Parenthood Global. Denying organizations funding just for talking about abortion is a step in the wrong direction, and allocating more money to organizations who do not talk about or provide abortion will only incentivize fewer global health organizations to provide this essential care.

"Despite the Trump administration's ludicrous rebranding of the policy, the Global Gag Rule is unmistakably deadlier than ever", PAI president and CEO Suzanne Ehlers said in a statement. The organizations receiving the funding are required to pledge that they will not use the aid to perform or advocate abortion.

"The big concern that people have about U.S. taxpayer money funding abortions is in and of itself such a fallacy that it's really hard to understand why they feel the need to go so much further than addressing that specific issue", said Dr. Caitlin Bernard, a fellow with Physicians for Reproductive Health and at the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Washington University in St. Louis.

Let's explain. The Mexico City Policy requires non-governmental organizations to agree not to "perform nor actively promote abortion as a method of family planning in other nations".

"President Trump is treating women's lives like political bargaining chips, trading them away to shore up his flagging support", said Sasha Bruce, senior vice president of campaigns and strategy for the pro-choice organization.

'Abortion is not health care, ' she said.

In his first few months in office, Trump has repeatedly pushed extremely regressive policies on women's health.

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