Just two days after President Trump vowed that the United States would “continue to fight for women’s rights and equality across the country and around the world” the Trump-Pence administration commemorated Women’s History Month by doubling down on policies intended to reverse progress on reproductive rights.
The release of the Standard Provisions for Non-U.S. Nongovernmental Organizations outlines the administration’s initial guidance for the implementation of its harmful Global Gag Rule. (This guidance is identical to the March 2001 standard provision.) Although Trump’s Global Gag Rule dramatically expands the scope of the policy to all global health assistance, today’s guidance singles out only those programs that include U.S. family planning assistance. The prioritization of reproductive health programs in this initial guidance makes clear the Trump-Pence administration’s continued efforts to treat women as pawns in its anti-choice game of politics.
Trump’s Global Gag Rule risks women’s health and lives by forcing foreign NGOs to choose between receiving U.S. global health assistance and providing comprehensive sexual and reproductive health care. Providers must agree to not offer—with their own money—legal abortion services, and information or even referrals for abortion services or to advocate for abortion law reform in order to remain eligible to receive U.S. family planning funds.
“In the Trump-Pence administration’s haste to place women in the first line of fire of a grotesque and deadly policy, today’s piecemeal and incomplete guidance will generate disorder and inefficiency among both U.S. and foreign NGOs,” said Jonathan Rucks, Director of Advocacy at PAI. “It’s hard to overstate how severely the Global Gag Rule will damage local health systems and undercut the work of our foreign NGO partners who provide vital health services to communities. Singling out family planning assistance from the rest of global health assistance will magnify the Global Gag Rule’s dangerous chilling effect and broaden the burden and harm to integrated health efforts.”
Family planning is a vital part of basic health care services and family planning clinics often serve as the entry point for women to access the entire health system. Whether here in the United States or abroad, attacks on family planning under the erroneous pretense of curbing legal abortions puts lifesaving services out of reach for the most vulnerable women. Evidence shows that restrictions imposed by the Global Gag Rule on family planning assistance do not decrease the number of abortions in developing countries, but reduces access to contraception and leads to more unwanted and high-risk pregnancies, unsafe abortions, and maternal illness, injury, and death.
With President Trump’s unprecedented expansion of the policy to all global health assistance funding, the Global Gag Rule’s impact on health systems will be more severe and leave countries less able to respond to basic health needs and emerging crises. It remains to be seen how it will apply the policy to other sectors, but one thing is abundantly clear—the Trump-Pence administration is set on attacking women everywhere, no matter the cost.
Contact: Adrienne Lee, Senior Communications Officer
PAI champions policies that make it possible for every woman to have quality reproductive health care. We work with policymakers in Washington and our network of proven partners in developing countries to advance women’s rights by removing barriers between women and the care they need.