Opinion: Mr. Trump’s ‘Gag Rule’ Will Harm Global Health
With a single memorandum, President Trump may well have made it harder for health workers around the world to fight cancer, H.I.V., Zika and Ebola. The memorandum, signed on Monday, reinstates and expands a policy barring health organizations abroad, many of which provide an array of services, from receiving federal funds if they even talk to women about abortion as a method of family planning.
The so-called Mexico City policy, also known as the global gag rule, was established by President Ronald Reagan in 1984, and has since been supported by every Republican president and opposed by every Democratic one; Barack Obama renounced it in 2009. Mr. Trump has not only reinstated it but greatly broadened its impact.
In the past, the policy has applied only to international family-planning funds, which currently total around $600 million. Mr. Trump’s memorandum, however, would apply the policy to “global health assistance furnished by all departments or agencies.” Although reproductive health groups are still studying the memorandum, this language would appear to apply to any international health funding, around $9 billion, used to fight malaria, H.I.V., Zika, Ebola and many other global health threats. This would seem to go well beyond family-planning aid from the Agency for International Development and the State Department, to also include money from all American governmental agencies and departments.
- Health Care