Mitigating the Impact of the Global Gag Rule
On January 23, 2017, President Donald Trump signed a “Presidential Memorandum regarding the Mexico City Policy.” The memorandum reimposed the Mexico City Policy in effect during the George W. Bush administration (2001-2009) and directed the Secretary of State, in coordination with the Secretary of Health and Human Services, “to implement a plan to extend the requirements of the reinstated Memorandum to global health assistance furnished by all departments and agencies.”
The expanded Mexico City Policy restrictions were renamed “Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance,” also known by its critics as the Global Gag Rule. The policy prohibits U.S. global health assistance from being provided to foreign non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that perform abortions in cases other than a threat to the life of the woman, rape or incest; provide counseling (including advice or information) and/or referral for abortion; or lobby to make abortion legal or more available in their own country, even if these activities are performed with funding from other, non-U.S. government (USG), sources. While the restrictions only applied to USG family planning assistance during prior Republican presidential administrations, the Trump administration policy is imposed on virtually all USG global health assistance.
Foreign NGOs, defined as NGOs (nonprofit or for-profit) that are not organized under the laws of the United States, can engage in certain types of abortion-related activities and still remain eligible for U.S. global health assistance. This brochure seeks to clarify the specific restrictions imposed by the policy in order to protect and preserve critical life-saving health care services from an unnecessarily broad interpretation of what the policy does and does not require.