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Global Gag Rule

The “Global Gag Rule,” or the Mexico City Policy, prohibits NGOs that receive U.S. foreign aid from performing or promoting abortion. Trump reinstated the policy (which President Obama had repealed) with the State Department’s stamp of approval almost immediately after taking office. While the policy has a “decades-old track record of repeal and reinstatement” from Democratic to Republican administrations, Trump’s gag rule is the most extreme and harmful version of the policy ever enacted — restricting nearly $9 billion in foreign health assistance, which is around 14 times as much aid as any previous Republican administration’s version. The policy is only getting more draconian under Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who announced in 2019 that the gag rule would be extended to aid organizations that fund other groups that provide or discuss abortion.

The rule has been criticized as a breach of international human rights law and has drastically impeded access to not just reproductive health, but other critical services as well. Health clinics around the world that provide nutrition services, maternal and child health services, and STD and other infectious disease prevention services have been forced to close. Contraception has been lost or put at risk for over 2 million patients. Major cuts to HIV/AIDs programs have had to be made as, unlike previous iterations of the gag rule, Trump’s policy provides no exemption for emergency AIDS relief plans. What’s more, despite the policy being heralded by anti-abortion activists, Trump’s gag rule has actually increased abortions by at least 40 percent in countries studied by a Lancet analysis of the policy.