Yesterday, Donald Trump signed off on reinstituting the Mexico City Policy- known by opponents as “the global gag rule.” The policy was originally introduced by Ronald Reagan in 1984 at the United Nations 2nd International Conference on Population and Development which was held in Mexico City.
BTW, the International Conference on Population and Development held in 1994 still has its website up:
Awww… I remember 1994.
Anyway- Reagan announces that he is going to cut funding to foreign non-government organizations (NGOs) who provide abortion services or include abortion in the discussion of options a woman has available to her for whatever reason. (Hence the “gag” part- they can’t even talk about abortion.)
I had a hard time coming up with an example of a foreign non-government organization which would be affected by this rule.*** I hate to admit this, but the first good example I got came from the Breitbart website (please tell me how many hail Marys I need to do to make up for that one, please. I’ll get started now).
But it’s probably the best example– International Planned Parenthood. I didn’t know there was an international Planned Parenthood (gimme some more hail Marys please- also, where can I buy a rosary?).
So Reagan announces a rule that organizations like International Planned Parenthood (IPP) will get cut off from US funding if they provide abortion services, counseling, etc. The rule is in place until 1993 when Bill Clinton decides it’s a bad idea and signs a piece of paper saying that the rule is off. Then George W. Bush takes the White House in 2001 and signs another piece of paper declaring the rule is back on. Barack Obama takes the White House in 2009, signs another piece of paper turning the rule off again. And then yesterday, Donald Trump signed another piece of paper- turning the rule on again.
Seems like time for a sports reference, right? A sportsball travels from the Republican side of the court to the Democrat side of the court depending on who’s in charge at the time.
Some things that I learned that are important:
- This changes nothing about the way abortion is regulated in the United States.
- Donald Trump did something everyone who knows anything about this would expect him to do as a Republican president taking charge of the White House. He just put the sportsball where he was told to put it.
The Mexico City Policy does nothing to anybody in America besides make them angry. But what does it do? I’m still in the process of finding out- but here are some things I’ve learned so far:
- The policy limits the effectiveness of care available to women. When an agency can’t even say the “a” word, it makes it hard to talk about other things too- like contraception.
- NGOs which do not sign their part of the gag rule lose funding- including funding for contraceptives, education and family planning counseling. IPP- and NGOs like it- provide a lot of non-abortion services which are essential to staying alive like cancer screenings and STD testing.
- The number of total abortions that happened during the years when the gag rule was in effect INCREASED. MORE ABORTIONS HAPPEN WHEN THE GAG RULE IS IN EFFECT. You can talk about correlation vs. causation if you want, but if you limit women’s access to contraceptives, it’s pretty logical that there is going to be an increase in unwanted pregnancies. #concept
(Here’s a study about it: http://www.who.int/bulletin/volumes/89/12/11-091660/en/)
(And by the way- I got the link to the study from this page produced by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation: http://kff.org/global-health-policy/fact-sheet/mexico-city-policy-explainer/#endnote_link_206880-25)
I would really like to hear about the experiences of someone working in a clinic that has to go back and forth between talking about abortion and not talking about abortion based on who the president is in another country. Can NPR please send a correspondent somewhere for me? Or is that an actual thing? Maybe clinics just shut down when the gag rule is in place and start back up again when it’s not in place. I don’t know! This is total speculation!
The Gag Rule is just a memorandum. It’s a policy. It’s a piece of paper- or a stack of paper- but not so big a stack you couldn’t get a staple through it. But what do I know about government staplers?
Anyway- my point is is that isn’t there some way we can make the Gag Rule stop coming back? I googled that too! Barbara Boxer tried to do this in 2007. She proposed an amendment called the Global Democracy Promotion Act that would block the funding cuts implemented by the policy and it passed the senate. But that was while W was in office and he resolved to veto any action which would block the policy. Nothing actually happened and, as you know now, the sportsball went back to Barack in 2009. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could get something like this passed? Oh wait… a republican is in the White House and republicans have the majority in congress… so … let’s put that on the to-do list for when a Democrat is president. That is… if there is ever another president…
***I’m horrified at the realization that all of my research in the past ten years has been done using Google searches. An exception to this would be the research I did while working on my master’s degree when I got to have access to the CSUN databases. But then I was looking up really specific studies about the effect of chronic ear infections on language learning, for instance. The stuff I’m looking into now seems like stuff that should be public knowledge. So what does that tell me about public knowledge? If I’ve been relying on nothing-but-Google for the last ten years, I think there is a good chance that the majority of the internet-accessing population has been doing the same. Our access to information is more limited than I had originally thought.