The Third Anniversary of Trump’s Global Gag Rule

Staff members at CMC Flamboyants Health Clinic in Conakry, Guinea on June 16, 2015. Photo © Dominic Chavez/World Bank

January 23 marks three years since Donald Trump reinstated — and significantly expanded — the Global Gag Rule. While a version of the policy has been enacted by every Republican since Reagan, Trump took it much further, barring foreign NGOs that receive any global health funding from the United States from providing abortion services, counseling, or referrals, or engaging in advocacy to liberalize abortion laws in their own countries.

Trump’s Global Gag Rule has put organizations in the impossible position of choosing to either continue to receive funding and deny people critical health care services, or forgo U.S. funding and risk having to reduce services or even close clinics due to a lack of resources. Regardless of which they chose, over the past three years, organizations have faced the devastating consequences of this cruel policy. Here are just some of the impacts they’ve seen since Trump’s Global Gag Rule went into effect:

Astan Traore (center right) has her blood pressure checked in the maternity ward of Asacoba health clinic in Bamako, Mali on November 2, 2013. Photo © Dominic Chavez/World Bank
  • Access to safe abortion, even in countries where abortion is legal, is severely limited and many organizations fear that patients will risk their lives by seeking unsafe abortions .
  • Contraceptives, pre and postnatal care care, HIV/AIDS and STI testing, cervical and breast cancer screenings, and support for survivors of gender-based violence are also less accessible, leaving patients without access to crucial sexual and reproductive health care services.
  • Limited available guidance about compliance, coupled with the policy’s vague language, has led to widespread confusion amongst NGO staff. For many organizations, fear of losing funding has caused them to over-implement the Gag Rule in order to stay in compliance, meaning they cut services unnecessarily, which disrupts their ability to provide other health related services.
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