Eight countries are joining together in a coalition to counter Trump’s renewal of the “global gag order” and help ensure women’s rights around the world.
The order, also known as the Mexico City Policy, prevents any health providers in foreign countries who receive U.S. funding from providing information or care related to abortions. The rule applies even if the providers are using alternative sources of funding. The Helms Amendment already prevents U.S. government funds from being used for abortions abroad. Trump’s order expands the effects of both the Helms Amendment and the gag order as it was originally written under Reagan, applying it to all global health funding, not just funding specifically related to family planning programs.
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Under this policy, organizations cannot even discuss abortion as a family planning option with patients if they wish to receive funding from the U.S. But representatives from Belgium, Sweden, Denmark, Luxembourg, Finland, Canada, the Netherlands, and Cape Verde are coming together to help fill the funding gap.
The global gag order threatens the health of women around the world, so these countries are fundraising with their own governments as well as non-governmental organizations, and private companies to help healthcare providers around the world continue to offer life-saving care and a full range of family-planning options. For example, Sweden and Belgium are co-organizing the “She Decides” conference in Brussels this spring. The event will fundraise for international aid organizations working on family planning, women’s health, and women’s rights issues around the world.
The conference is part of the larger “She Decides” fundraising initiative launched by the Netherlands, which “aims to ensure that millions of women and girls are in charge of their own bodies,” according to their website.
Trump’s administration has already proven itself dangerous to women’s rights. In addition to the renewal and expansion of the global gag order, his Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch, was a judge in the controversial Hobby Lobby case. He argued that companies should not have to pay for employee’s birth control if doing so violated their religious faith. Trump also pledged during his campaign to overturn Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that guaranteed a woman’s right to abortion. While his initial promise demonstrated a lack of understanding of the U.S. court system (a consistent problem for Trump,) a Supreme Court justice who believes the religious beliefs of some should dictate the rights of all is still dangerous for women’s rights. And his administration has emboldened anti-choice lawmakers in the U.S.
Oklahoma has introduced a bill that would require women to get a man’s permission before obtaining an abortion and referred to women’s bodies as “hosts” for embryos. South Dakota introduced greater restrictions for abortion access in a state that already only has one abortion clinic. Kentucky wants to enact it’s own miniature gag order on organizations providing abortions or information about abortion. In all, state lawmakers have introduced 167 anti-choice bills in the first month of this administration. And Republicans continue their efforts to defund Planned Parenthood.
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Laura has a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Johns Hopkins University, and a Master of Arts in International Affairs from Boston University Pardee School of Global Studies. In addition to Reverb Press, she is a contributor at Mic and Medium.