President Donald Trump on Monday signed an executive order reinstating a policy critics call the Global Gag Rule, further cementing reproductive rights advocates' warning that 2017 would entail an uphill battle for women's healthcare.
Officially known as the Mexico City Policy, the rule, as Nonprofit Quarterly explained, "specifically prohibits international charities from promoting abortion as a method of family planning even if that 'promotion' simply entails a physician engaging in a conversation about the option of abortion with a patient." As such, Kiersten Gillette-Pierce and Jamila Taylor write at Center for American Progress, it "infringes upon women's fundamental right to make informed decisions about their bodies and their health."
Since it was first signed by President Ronald Reagan in 1984, it has been an on-again, off-again U.S. policy, with Republican presidents keeping it in place, while Democrats have rescinded it, most recently President Barack Obama, who began his presidency in 2009 with an executive order striking down the rule.
Reproductive health advocacy organizations decried Trump's order, saying it jeopardizes critical health services women and their families rely on, as clinics faced with funding shortfalls may be forced to slash services or close entirely.
Vicki Saporta, president and CEO of the National Abortion Federation (NAF), notes: "Since many clinics offer comprehensive healthcare services in addition to family planning, the loss of funding under the Global Gag Rule has meant that children have not been immunized, couples have not been able to receive HIV testing and treatment, and families have not been able to access malaria services."
"Trump's Global Gag Rule will obstruct and destroy the work of healthcare providers who are often women's main—and sometimes only—source for reproductive healthcare, and their entry point for receiving a wide range of primary healthcare services," said Suzanne Ehlers, president and CEO of PAI.
"This policy is an attack on women's bodily autonomy and freedom, and we will see an increase in unintended pregnancies and unsafe abortions as a result."
—Suzanne Ehlers, PAI"To be clear," Ehlers continued, "this policy is an attack on women's bodily autonomy and freedom, and we will see an increase in unintended pregnancies and unsafe abortions as a result."
"There is simply no excuse for this action when the evidence that it is both cruel and stupid is clear," adds Brian Dixon, senior vice president for media and government relations at Population Connection Action Fund. "It turns out that Trump is intent on punishing women around the world for experiencing unintended pregnancy."
The order comes a day after the 44th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the landmark decision, which, as a new report shows, if overturned could put 37 million women in 33 states at-risk of being without abortion access.
Entitled What If Roe Fell, the Center for Reproductive Rights publication allows users to see if they live in a "high alert" state, where the right to abortion is at the highest risk of loss if the 1973 decision is undone.
"We cannot go back to the days before Roe, when some women put their lives on the line when they needed to end a pregnancy. Forcing women to travel thousands of miles across state lines for basic healthcare in 2017 is not only unconstitutional, it's unconscionable," said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights.