Both Cruel and Stupid, Again/Still

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Women from Donald's shithole countries face increasing dangers. Getty photo

In yet another devastating action against women and science - so many atrocities, so little time - this week marks the anniversary of what advocates call "a clear killer": Trump not just reinstating, but expanding, a controversial Global Gag Rule that denies U.S. funding to international health organizations that offer, or even talk about, abortion for women in need. Appallingly, his act to "protect the unborn," which also inevitably curtails women's access to contraception and other basic services, represents one of the few promises Trump hasn't broken.

He signedthe bill on his first day in office, and expanded it in May; it now blocks $8.8 billion in aid, way up from the initial $60 million at stake, which shortfall alarmed advocates are trying to make up. Critics note none of that money has ever been used to directly fund abortion services, which is forbidden by law, so it largely targets simply speaking about abortion as an option - hence, the "gag" label. The visuals of Trump's signing such a travesty were appropriately infuriating: One powerful white man, watched by seven more of the same, signing what many deem "a death warrant" for thousands of women.

The return of a gag rule broadly deemed immoral is just one of many GOP actions currently targeting women and their health, from allowing health workers to refuse to treat women seeking abortion or trans patients to seeking to withhold funds from Medicaid, Planned Parenthood and Title X family planning to ongoing threats - over 230 state laws restricting abortion - to Roe v. Wade. The gag rule differs in one lethal way: It primarily affects poor, black, Third World women. Variously called "America's deadly export" and "a war on African women," it threatens to reverse decades of progress, largely in Africa, on contraception, population growth, reproductive rights and the fight against HIV, TB and malaria. 

The newly draconian rule could close health clinics in Uganda, where fertility rates are among the world’s highest; leave sex workers in Kenya newly vulnerable to HIV; reduce AIDS treatment for women in sub-Saharan Africa; drive women across the continent to seek deadly, back-alley abortions. While this week's anniversary drew little notice, activists with the Population Connection Action Fund sought to draw attention to one more heedless horror that puts the U.S. "on the side of oppression, not freedom" by projecting a slideshow onto Trump's D.C. hotel. "We won't stand by as women die," it proclaimed, and "It doesn't take a genius to know family planning works." Above all and like so much else in these dark times, said a spokesman, the rule remains what it's always been - "both cruel and stupid."

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The signing: If you're not angry, you're not paying attention. Getty photo

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