It’s been a rough honeymoon week for America and it’s not even over yet. Just a day after the inauguration of their 45th President, the women (and men too) took to the streets of Washington by their thousands to protest various inequalities that persist till date and that they imagined were about to get worse. They were right.
The only thing Donald Trump did before signing two executive orders against core American female rights to their bodies was to tweet the question: “Why didn’t these people vote?”. But their pro-active agitation did not stop him in his tracks or make him reconsider his pre-Roe V Wade pro-life position.
Three days in, President Trump reinstated the global gag rule surrounded by what we are now slowly coming to terms with as his band of yes-men-in-white. That development in itself was not an issue. Starting with Ronald Raegan in 1984, every republican administration has always made it a point to make the executive order.
The global gag rule
The global gag rule is legislation the far-right uses to propagate its pro-life/anti-abortionist agenda. It refuses to fund any reproductive health non-governmental organisation that even as much as discusses abortion as part of their services. It does not matter what the main objective of the organisation is; as long as it discusses abortion with its clients – even if it can show that it does so with its own funds or funds from a separate donor – the United States’ donations will still be withdrawn. It’s like: “we are pro-life and the world must be too”.
The problem with the gag rule is that it obviously does not only affect abortion the way it is intended. It cripples so much humanitarian/health work in and outside of America. And America funds a lot of these non-profits. In Nigeria alone, the United States gives $279 million in health funding. Imagine if all that were withdrawn on account of Nigerian laws being pro-abortionist – which they so aren’t by the way. In fact, the laws against abortion in Nigeria are much worse than in America. Here, the Penal laws only permit the deliberate termination of a pregnancy before term where there is a severe danger to the mother’s life. Even then, the are no subsidies from the government to the endangered mother. In America, there is government funding in cases of rape, incest or danger to the mother’s life.
Back to Trump …
On Monday, Sean Spicer, the new White House Press Secretary announced Trump’s new decision. Pro-life liberals in America were not too surprised by this since it’s just the Republican thing to do. All they had to argue with was Spicer’s goof that Tump made the order to “end the use of taxpayer dollars to fund abortions overseas, along with coercive abortion and sterilisation practices… contrary to the values of this president.”
Emily Crockett immediately called him out. “That’s not true” She wrote.
For one thing, there’s already a policy in place that does what Spicer describes. It’s called the Helms Amendment, and since 1973 it has banned foreign aid from being used “to pay for the performance of abortion as a method of family planning or to motivate or coerce any person to practice abortions. It’s important to note that the Helms Amendment already has harmful effects on women’s health. It also makes no exceptions for rape victims in conflict zones, which means the US couldn’t have stepped in to help the Boko Haram girls who became pregnant from rape to obtain an abortion. (the last bit is where Emily slightly missed it. They couldn’t have helped even if tey wanted to. Re: Nigerian anti-abortionist legal regime).
So why has there been a global reproductive health outcry worse that the usual since Trump’s order?
It’s because the world has now realised the content of Trump’s order which actually goes beyond the Republican norm. Trump has extended the gag rule.
In Trump’s order, the gag rule now strips all of United States’ health funding: be it malarial, AIDS or others – as long as an organisation does not disavow itself from propagating the abortionist message. The original Reagan version worked to strip the organisation off the funds United States offered towards such organisation’s family planning agenda. Now, Trump’s version will strip the organisation of any U.S health funding. So it does not matter that you also help hunger-stricken communities or provide surgical help to terror victims; as long as some of your work encourages abortion, you don’t get any dime from Trump’s America.
As if that was not bad enough already…
On Tuesday – because the Republicans also control the Congress (the equivalent of Senate here), Republican legislators voted 238-183 to permanently ban American women, too, from receiving any federal financial assistance for abortion — irrespective of the woman’s healthcare insurance plans – Obamacare, Medicaid or even private insurance schemes.
Essentially, if this legislative move goes through in addition to trump’s executive order, America will become one of the many countries of the world where anti-abortionist regimes actually endanger more lives than it saves. Without goverment regulation (or in America’s case, subsidy), people without access to funds to engage professional/top-notch help with removing pregnancies are forced to visit the quacks who will charge lesser for more complications.
Creative mind. Enthusiast. Learner. Multipotentialite. And here, an assistant editor.