WASHINGTON ― On Monday, surrounded by other white men, President Donald Trump signed an anti-abortion executive order that has far-reaching consequences for women’s reproductive health access worldwide.
Trump reinstated the Mexico City policy, also known as the global gag rule, which was first put in place by President Ronald Reagan in 1984. It prohibits giving U.S. funding to international nongovernmental organizations that offer or advise on a wide range of family planning and reproductive health options if they include abortion ― even if U.S. dollars are not specifically used for abortion-related services.
The United States spends about $600 million a year on international assistance for family planning and reproductive health programs, making it possible for 27 million women and couples to access contraceptive services and supplies.
None of that money is spent on performing abortions. The Helms amendment has prevented U.S. tax dollars from funding overseas abortions since 1973. Proponents of the global gag rule believe the policy is nevertheless still necessary, arguing that Helms isn’t strong enough by itself.
The executive order is one of the first Trump has signed since taking office. Sitting in the Oval Office Monday, he also signed ones freezing federal hiring and withdrawing from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal.
A pan of the people standing by his side showed that there were few, if any, women present.
Trump’s executive order has severe implications and could be deadly for women and girls in developing countries and conflict zones, who often resort to dangerous methods of ending their pregnancies when they lack access to safe abortion. The World Health Organization estimates that more than 21 million women a year have unsafe abortions in developing countries, accounting for about 13 percent of all maternal deaths.
The policy is rescinded and reinstated based on which party is in power. President Bill Clinton did away with it, President George W. Bush put it back and then President Barack Obama rescinded it again when he took office.
Trump’s Cabinet is more white and more male than any president’s first Cabinet since Reagan.