Trump's Global Attack on Abortion = Denial of Health Care for Millions

May 22, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper |


A major feature of the fascist Trump/Pence regime is greatly accelerated attacks on women, especially the assault on abortion. One major step in this was Trump’s move, right after taking office, to not only reinstate the Global Gag Rule, which had been canceled by Obama, but to expand it. The Global Gag Rule is an anti-abortion policy affecting women all over the world. Now, Trump’s more dangerous version of the Gag Rule has been officially packaged into a policy, introduced on May 15, called “Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance” (PLGHA).

The Global Gag Rule, first put into effect by President Reagan in 1984, banned U.S. funds to foreign nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) that “perform or actively promote abortion as a method of family planning in other nations” (emphasis added). This draconian rule meant groups receiving U.S. funds couldn’t even speak about abortion—which is why this policy is called the Global Gag Rule.

When the Global Gag Rule was first introduced, there was already a ban on U.S. funding of abortions—which still exists. But the Gag Rule imposed U.S. control over how NGOs use funds from sources other than the U.S. This has forced public health and family planning organizations that depend on U.S. funds to make a choice: stop performing or even advocating for abortion, which is crucial for women’s health and their lives overall—or continue this vital service but lose crucial funding for other important medical services. The Gag Rule previously applied to NGOs seeking funds from two sources: the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the primary agency responsible for civilian foreign aid; and the U.S. State Department (since 2003). And some programs, like those dealing with HIV/AIDS, had been exempted.

Now, the Trump/Pence regime’s PLGHA extends the Gag Rule to NGOs getting aid from all U.S. government departments and agencies—with no exceptions. In the past the Gag Rule withheld about $600 million a year. Now, the PLGHA, affecting all global health assistance, will mean $8.8 billion withheld annually—and this applies to far more NGOs. These include NGOs doing HIV/AIDS prevention (accounting for $6 billion of the cuts), malaria treatment, Zika response, and child health programs—in addition to reproductive health and family planning programs.

It is predicted that many critical health care centers around the world will now be forced to close. And the denial of family planning services will mean even more women dying after taking desperate measures like drinking battery acid or using wire coat hangers to end a pregnancy.

The Trump/Pence regime’s Global Gag Rule on steroids serves as a rallying cry for the Christian fascists who have been fighting for decades to abolish the right to abortion and reinforce patriarchal control, here and around the world, pushing their Dark Ages morality. The Christian fascists say this is about “protecting life,” but this is a lie. Fetuses are NOT babies. Women are NOT incubators. Denying the right to abortion consigns women to the status of slaves. Tony Perkins, head of the Christian fascist Family Research Council, hailed the new PLGHA, saying, “Today, President Trump fulfilled another campaign promise.... President Trump is keeping faith with the almost 60 percent of Trump voters who supported him and Vice President Pence based on their endorsement of the Republican Party’s platform on life and religious liberty.”

These Christian fascist ghouls are celebrating a policy that will mean stepped-up death and horrendous suffering for countless millions of people all around the world: Women whose lives will be ruined by unwanted pregnancies and who will die from unsafe abortions; people unable to get medicine for HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other deadly diseases; babies and children denied life-saving health care. Unsafe abortions already account for about 13 percent of maternal deaths worldwide; an estimated 68,000 women die as a result of unsafe abortion and 97 percent of unsafe abortions are in Third World countries. Now even more women will die.

Trump’s bringing back of a ramped-up version of an anti-abortion policy canceled by the previous Democratic administration is not some kind of “swing of the pendulum.” Moving with even more speed and viciousness toward abolition of abortion is a major component of the Trump/Pence regime’s fascist re-ordering of society and political rule. The regime’s new, vicious attack on women’s right to abortion, the super-charged Global Gag Rule, will cause great harm to millions and millions of people of all ages around the world. It must be denounced and fought as part of the whole struggle to drive out the Trump/Pence regime.



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