The Trump administration announced earlier this week a massive expansion of the so-called “global gag rule,” a policy that cuts off U.S. support from nongovernmental organizations abroad if they so much as provide information about abortion to women who might want to hear it. This expansion will have a devastating impact on global health — particularly for women and families — as well as on free speech.
The global gag rule stops foreign NGOs from using their own money to provide abortions, information about abortion, or referrals for abortion to women who want them. In addition, it prohibits groups receiving U.S. funding from engaging in legal and political advocacy to promote changes to a country’s laws or policies related to abortion. It also bans NGOs from running public education campaigns to provide people with truthful information about abortion.
The president’s announcement came just one day after he issued a statement marking the start of Women’s Health Week, calling for affordable, accessible, and quality healthcare for women. Yet this policy does exactly the opposite, and its unprecedented expansion makes things worse.
When the global gag rule has been imposed in the past, the health consequences have been severe: Clinics that provided reproductive, maternal, and child health care services were shuttered Access to contraception was restricted And the number of unintended pregnancies and unsafe abortions increased — factors that lead to more women and children dying.