Trump WH expands pro-life policy

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When President Trump announced in January he was bringing back the global gag rule, which bars foreign nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) from receiving any US funds if they offer abortion services, counseling, advocacy or even referrals, many commentators noted that he had made the policy more punishing.

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".

'Referrals for the termination of a pregnancy in cases or rape, incest or endangerment of the life of the woman are not prohibited under this policy, ' the official said.

"This executive order does not cut a single penny from USA aid, rather it simply ensures our hard-earned tax dollars are used by other health care entities that act consistently to save lives, rather than promoting and performing abortion".

Senior administration officials confirmed Monday (local time) that Trump's version will impact US$8.8 billion for programmes related to AIDS, malaria and child health.

The expanded policy includes $8.8 billion in foreign assistance while not cutting funding from American aid. In the past the Global Gag Rule has been limited to overseas family planning assistance only.

Past implementations of the Mexico City policy affected $500 to $600 million in yearly funds administered by the State Department and U.S Agency for International Development (USAID). But Trump's executive order in January extended the prohibition to all government agencies and departments, a huge expansion, but one that still left some room for speculation about just how far-reaching the new gag rule would be.

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It also applies to global funding from the Department of Defense, which is how the budget ended up much larger than the originally estimated $600 million from the U.S. Agency for worldwide Development (USAID) and the Department of State.

The new policy applies to funds provided to foreign non-governmental organisations, but not to aid provided to governments or multi-lateral organisations, the state department said. The organizations receiving the funding are required to pledge that they will not use the aid to perform or advocate abortion. Excluded will be humanitarian assistance such as migration and refugee-assistance activities, USAID disaster and humanitarian-relief activities, and U.S. Department of Defense disaster and humanitarian relief.

One of Donald Trump's first acts as president was to re-instate the "Global Gag Rule".

The policy, introduced in 1984, holds that no US government funding for family planning services can be given to foreign clinics or groups that offer abortion services or discuss abortion, even if the funds for those activities come from non-U.S. government sources. The controversial ban won praise from pro-life groups who say it aligns US foreign aid funding with conservative policies, but drew condemnation from many in the NGO community, who called it a "death warrant" for some women in developing countries. The order also expanded and updated that policy by ensuring the ban on taxpayer funds for overseas abortions is in place across US global health programs that provide assistance. NGOs must adhere to this policy or risk losing United States funding. And the USA role in global health has increased over time.

While this might be seen as a win for the GOP and evangelical Trump supporters who are interesting in eliminating abortion, it is a terrifying step for USA aid around the world.

"And in a way, his coming into the movement as an ally seems to have freed him to be able to take a lot of actions that others might have been a little too skittish to take", she said. This deeply unpopular policy only serves to deny women and families life-saving health care.

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