Trump Reinstates Reagan’s ‘Global Gag Rule’ Regarding Overseas Abortion

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GOP Presidential Candidate Donald Trump Campaigns Near Green Bay, Wisconsin

The “global gag rule” is an anti-abortion policy that is generally treated like a political frisbee that the Democratic and Republican parties toss back and forth as they come into power. Democratic presidents rescind it when they take office; Republican presidents reinstate it when they come into power. President Donald Trump just reinstated it.

The “global gag rule” was established by Ronald Reagan in 1984, and it prevents U.S. funds from going to any foreign organization that provides abortions or even tells women that abortions exist and they can get them. That’s why people call it a “gag rule,” because it’s not just about not paying for abortions, it also restricts medical service providers and foreign aid organizations from even mentioning abortion or giving referrals that might help a person figure out where to terminate a pregnancy. The rule applies even in countries where abortion is legal.

As The Cut points out, U.S. funds cannot be used to pay for abortions, and that’s been the case since 1973. The gag rule goes beyond barring U.S. money for abortions and says that U.S. funding cannot go to any organization that provides abortions–even if the U.S. money is not paying for them–and even prohibits recipients of U.S. aid from even mentioning abortion.

Anti-abortion legislation tends to disproportionately affect poor women, especially poor women who don’t have the ability to travel and poor women who live in places where they don’t have access to good health care. The “global gag rule” directly affects the health and choices of poor women in other countries who don’t have any options, and on top of all that, experts say it doesn’t work at all.

The global gag rule is designed to reduce abortions, but contraception, education, and health care reduce abortions. Laws like this just make them more dangerous. According to Buzzfeed’s Jina Moore, a World Health Organization study from 2011 indicates that abortion rates actually increased by 40 percent last time the rule was in place.

Another problem is that cutting funding to family planning services can have a direct link with HIV rates. Cutting off funding to health service providers that mention abortion cuts off access to contraception, and contraception is one of the primary ways of preventing HIV transmission.