The Trump administration is pushing to extend its ban on funding for foreign nonprofits that perform or promote abortions, a move critics say could further restrict access to healthcare worldwide.
In a move that will satisfy President Donald Trump’s base, the Department of Defense, the General Services Administration and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration published proposed rule on Monday to extend the “Protection of life in global health aid” policy, which already includes global health grants and co-operation agreements, to enforce contracts. The rule already applies to the Department of State, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Defense, and the United States Agency for International Development.
The proposed rule – which now faces a 60-day comment period ending after Election Day – marks another call from the administration for abortion rights opponents on the eve of the presidential election. In recent weeks, Trump has stressed his anti-abortion stance in his judicial appointment, and Vice President Mike Pence has appeared with anti-abortion groups in some oscillating states.
The rule also comes about a month after a State Department review found that the policy as it currently stands has damaged efforts to treat tuberculosis and HIV / AIDS and to provide nutritional assistance, among other programs, and has had a significant impact in sub-Saharan Africa.
Based on data from 2013 to 2015, global health funds secured through contracts could account for nearly 40% of all funds affected by the rule if Monday’s policy entry into force could take effect, said Jen Kates, senior vice president and director of global health and HIV policy at the Nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation.
“This is a step that (the administration) has not yet taken,” Kates told CNN. “I think the goal is for the policy to be implemented for as much global health funding as possible.”
Plans for the additional request had been underway for some time. In 2017, the Trump administration Restores “Mexico City Policy” – which had previously only impacted family planning assistance – with the presidential memorandum and extended it to all applicable US global health funds under “Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance”.
Organizations that continued to promote or perform abortions continued to lose all U.S. policy-based health care – affecting more than 1,300 global health projects and an estimated $ 12 billion in U.S. aid in 2017-2018, according to Office of Government Accountability, an independent, non-partisan agency working for Congress.
The policy was intended to be applied to grants, cooperation agreements and contracts from the beginning. But implementing contract policy required the creation of new rules, which the State Department and USAID followed by 2018.
Monica Kerrigan, CEO of Planned Parenthood Global, slammed the proposed rule in a statement Monday.
“As Covid-19 continues to take on life and devastated communities, the administration is consciously moving to expand this policy,” she said. “There is no excuse for this brazen disregard for human health and rights.”
There have been restrictions on federal abortion aid money since 1973. In 1985, the ban was extended to foreign groups receiving federal aid. This policy has been implemented consistently and further, with democratic administrations traditionally abolishing politics and republican administrations restoring it.
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