This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 12th (it came out in 2015), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

If you are a user of my textbook and would like to suggest a blog post idea, please email me at: john.weeks@sdsu.edu

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Global Gag Rule Reinstated by Trump Administration

The "Global Gag Rule" is a U.S. government policy prohibiting organizations that receive aid from the U.S. from providing abortion or even counseling women about abortion. It dates back to the Reagan administration's announcement at the UN Population Conference in Mexico City in 1984 that any organization in the world that received money from the U.S. government was prohibited from providing abortion, abortion counseling, or abortion-related services. This was called the “Mexico City Policy” and later dubbed the “Global Gag Rule.” The Reagan Administration, which had devised this policy, later decided that the UNFPA was in violation (despite repeated denials by the United Nations) and the Reagan and then the Bush administrations withheld all U.S. funding from the UNFPA from 1987–92. U.S. funding was reinstated by the Clinton administration in 1993, but withheld again when George W. Bush took office in 2001, and then reinstated after Barack Obama was inaugurated in 2009. 

During the presidential campaign, Donald Trump had made it clear that he opposed abortion, and so it was no surprise that the Global Gag Rule has been reinstated, but apparently it is even harsher than before, as reported by Slate:
By Monday’s end, however, people who work on global reproductive health and rights were reeling. Trump, it eventually emerged, hadn’t simply revived the so-called global gag rule. Quietly, with so little publicity that activists weren’t aware until someone saw the new language in a tweeted image, Trump had massively expanded the rule. Suzanne Ehlers, president and CEO of the global reproductive health organization PAI, says it’s the global gag rule “on steroids.”
Trump’s version of the global gag rule expands the policy to all global health funding. According to Ehlers, the new rule means that rather than impacting $600 million in U.S. foreign aid, the global gag rule will affect $9.5 billion.
Fortunately, other countries have said that they will step up to help fill the void, as The Guardian has reported:
Up to 20 countries have indicated support for the Netherlands’ plan to set up an international safe abortion fund to plug a $600m funding gap caused by Donald Trump’s reinstatement of the “global gag rule”, the Dutch international development minister, Lilianne Ploumen, said on Wednesday.
Ploumen took soundings from a number of her colleagues around the world on Tuesday evening after the Netherlands said it would act to mitigate the impact on hundreds of charities around the world.
It is my guess that if Trump ever thinks about this, he will be pleased to hear that someone else is willing to pay the bill. But, of course, the sad reality is that this is just another way to undermine women's reproductive rights--an outcome that has been anticipated since Trump's election.

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