Trump bans abortion funding for US NGOs abroad

Trump bans abortion funding for US NGOs abroad U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday signed an executive order blocking foreign aid or federal funding for international nongovernmental organizations that provide or "promote" abortions.

The so-called Mexico City policy, established by Republican President Ronald Reagan in 1984, blocks federal funding for international family planning charities that provide abortions or "promote" the procedure by providing patients with information about it, including by offering referrals to abortion providers.

Referred to by critics as the "global gag rule," the policy has been subjected to a game of political football over the years, with Democratic presidents rescinding the policy upon taking office, as President Obama did in 2009, and Republican presidents reinstating it.

The move comes amid a roiling public debate about women’s rights, jump-started Saturday by women’s marches held in major cities around the world.

The order also comes one day after the 44th anniversary of the Roe V. Wade Supreme Court ruling that made abortion legal.

“I think the president, it’s no secret, has made it very clear that he’s a pro-life president,” White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer told reporters at his first briefing Monday afternoon.

“And I think the reinstatement of this policy is not just something that echoes that value, but respects tax payer funding as well, and ensures that we’re standing up not just for life of the unborn, but for also taxpayer funds that are being spent overseas to perform an action that is contrary to the values of this president,” he added.

The move signals the beginning of a long fight over abortion that will likely continue throughout Trump’s presidency.

Trump took traditionally Republican stances on abortion during his campaign, vowing to sign any legislation defunding organizations that provide the procedure and promising to appoint “pro-life” justices to the Supreme Court.

Vice President Pence is also a staunch anti-abortion advocate who passed several laws restricting the procedure while governor of Indiana. During his time in Congress, Pence introduced several bills that would have banned federal funding for organizations that provide abortions.

Republicans and anti-abortion groups quickly praised the order as an advancement of "pro-life" policies and signaled that more would come throughout the Trump administration.

Democrats denounced the order as an effort to “silence the discussion of women’s reproductive choices.”

Trump's ban will impact foreign organizations such as the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPFF), which provides family planning services in more than 180 countries.

While organizations can choose to comply with the policy and keep U.S. funding, IPPF chose to give up its federal funding when President George W. Bush reinstated the policy.

IPFF said Monday it will not comply with the order under Trump.

IPFF estimated that the organization would lose $100 million from the U.S. for not complying with the order, adding that it would hurt millions of women who rely on it for sexual and reproductive health services.

“IPFF believes in the right of every individual to decide about their own health and well-being. As an organization that seeks to protect and improve the lives of women, men and children around the world, IPPF and its partners in 170 countries will not sign a policy that denies human rights and puts the lives of women at risk,” the organization said in a statement.

When Obama reinstated the policy in 2009, it came with a new focus on women's reproductive health in poor countries.

The 2016 U.S. budget included $607.5 million in funding for reproductive health internationally, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research group that supports abortion rights.
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