ActionAid has condemned a decision by US President Donald Trump’s administration to widen a policy that prevents foreign aid going to groups that discuss abortion or advocate for abortion rights.
The rules were issued by the State Department on Monday, and mean that any foreign non-governmental group that wants American money for its health activities must promise not “to promote abortion as a method of family planning”.
The new rules apply to $8.8bn in existing foreign aid provided by the state department, USAid, and the Department of Defense. The Guardian has said that this dwarfs the $600m in programming that fell under the ban during previous administrations.
International aid charity ActionAid has said that the “global gag rule” will have a “damaging effect” on a range of health programs for women in need
Sarah Carson, ActionAid’s women’s rights campaigns manager, said: “President Trump’s expansion of the global gag rule will have a chilling effect on women’s access to contraception and safe abortions in the world’s poorest countries. Some of the poorest, most marginalised women in the world will have their rights restricted or taken away entirely, with grave consequences for their health.
“Such severe funding cuts could have a damaging effect on a broad range of health programs that provide lifesaving treatment and prevention options to women in need. This is part of a global trend that is seeing the rights of women and girls eroded.
“Now more than ever we must work together to defend the right of women and girls. ActionAid firmly believes that women should have access to their full range of sexual and reproductive rights, and this includes access to information and safe abortions.”
The policy had been lifted in 2009 by then President Barack Obama, but Trump signed an executive order re-imposing the ban, known as the Mexico City Policy, just days into his presidency.
The change in policy will not cut the amount of foreign aid distributed through existing channels, and it does not apply to emergency disaster relief funds. But it will prevent those funds from going to any organization that promotes abortion rights.