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Trump administration to cut funds for abortion aid overseas

19 Mai 2017

President Donald Trump speaks during the 36th annual National Peace Officers Memorial Service, Monday, May 15, 2017, on Capitol Hill in Washington.

US President Donald Trump's executive order to block aid to groups overseas that counsel or provide referrals about abortion went into effect Monday (Tuesday NZ time) and will restrict almost US$9 billion (NZ$13.05 billion) in foreign health assistance.

YEGANEH TORBATI: Right. That's basically the general version of the rule. That was roughly $600 million.

The previous version of the policy cut about $575 million in aid.

Of the $8.8 billion, approximately $6 billion is earmarked for the Presidential Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, some of which is used to fund the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria. Newly covered programs, including PEPFAR, the President's Malaria Initiative, and other global health programs, will be given special attention under this review. It was last implemented by President George W. Bush and then was repealed by President Barack Obama. It also won't decrease the total amount of global health assistance the U.S.is offering.

Organisations that do not comply with the provisions laid out by Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance programme will not receive funds.

"So now, we might be tasked with decoupling those dollars in a way that does not make sense", says Pace.

And as Sasha Bruce, senior vice president of campaigns and strategy for NARAL, put it bluntly, Trump is "treating women's lives like political bargaining chips, trading them away to shore up his flagging support".

Typically, the Mexico City Policy has only impacted funds specifically earmarked for family planning programs. We know that outlawing abortion doesn't keep it from happening - if health care providers are incentivized to disavow the procedure, we can only expect that maternal mortality rates will rise.

This rule comes at a time when the global health community - with the support of the United States - has trended towards integrating health services to provide more holistic care for individuals and communities.

It is expected to take several months before the new policy's impact is fully felt on the ground.

"It's up to the recipients to decide whether or not they would - are willing to sign the clauses and implement these clauses", the official said.

"It's important to note that we're not talking about decreasing any of the programmatic funding to any of these elements", the official said, but added that there may be "a different provider" in some instances.

As The Christian Post reported, at the May 3 SBA List gala pro-life leaders in Congress who were once skeptical of Trump's pro-life bona fides are elated at the direction the White House is taking on the life issue. The Secretary of State could also authorize exemptions on a case-by-case basis.

Just how many groups will be impacted in the short term was not clear. The UN agency has characterised this argument as "erroneous". "The clinic may also be providing abortion referrals or abortion counseling with non-US funds".

On Monday (local time), both supporters and critics of the policy came out in full force.

Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser said in a press release the move is proof that "v$3 otes in America have global consequences". However, its nickname - the global gag rule - comes from its requirement that NGOs that receive USA funding pledge not to even discuss abortion services, let alone offer it. NGOs say it confirms their fears that the demands would focus on a larger slice of funding than its predecessors and its implementation would mean danger, and sometimes potentially even death, for women in developing countries seeking access to healthcare and contraception. America must always stand for life and the most vulnerable among us.

Trump administration to cut funds for abortion aid overseas