U.S. President Donald Trump has signed a decree barring federal funding for non-governmental international groups that support abortions, relaunching a political battle that has long divided Republican and Democratic administrations.
The rule prohibits foreign organizations that receive U.S. money from providing abortion services or giving information about the procedure, even if the groups use separate money for those purposes.
The regulation, known as the Mexico City Policy, was first put in place in 1984 by Republican President Ronald Reagan.
The law has become a political volleyball with former Democratic President Bill Clinton revoking it when he took office in 1993, former Republican President George W. Bush reinstating in 2001, and former Democratic President Barack Obama annulling it again in 2009. It has been used by incoming presidents to signal their position on abortion rights.
Although the move Monday by Trump to reinstate the rule was widely expected, it still drew criticism from women’s groups.
“Women’s health and rights are now one of the first casualties of the Trump administration,” said Serra Sippel, president of the Center for Health and Gender Equity in Washington, D.C.
“President Trump and his administration have made it clear that they are hostile to women, health and science,” she said. “Make no mistake: Trump’s global gag will not make U.S. investments more efficient or effective. The global gag rule has been associated with an increase in unsafe abortions and we expect that Trump’s global gag rule will cost women their lives.”
Trump’s reinstatement of the rule comes two days after hundreds of thousands of women marched in Washington and in cities across the U.S. and around the world to show support for women’s rights, including abortion.
Trump campaigned on a platform opposing abortion. He has promised to appoint an anti-abortion justice to fill a vacancy at the nation’s highest court and has said he wants to remove government funding from Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest provider of women’s health care, including abortions.
Trump’s positions against abortion are supported by many Republican lawmakers, who control both houses of Congress. Many of those Republicans also ran on a platform of opposing abortion.