The Trump administration released new anti-abortion rules Monday that will affect almost $9 billion in global health funding.
The new rules, now under the name "Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance," will expand a rule that withholds U.S. aid from health organizations worldwide that provide abortions or discuss abortion as an option, according to The New York Times. So even clinics that only receive U.S. money for, say, malaria prevention must promise not to talk about abortion with patients, the Times reports.
U.S. aid already cannot be used to perform abortions overseas, so this move would restrict health organizations from using any of their other funding to perform or promote abortions, BuzzFeed News reports. However, they can still make abortion referrals in cases of rape, incest or danger to the life of the mother.
Fox News reports about $8.8 billion in U.S. aid will be affected. Some aid arrangements, like disaster relief, will be exempted.
But because there are already laws in place that say U.S. money can't be used to fund abortions abroad, many are saying this new rule is only meant to make the Trump administration look good, not to actually help people.
Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen called the new ban "dangerous," according to NBC News. “President Trump’s dangerous obsession with rolling back reproductive rights has severe consequences for millions of vulnerable women and children and grossly undermines our nation’s humanitarian leadership around the world,” she said in a statement.
The State Department insists the new policy will not reduce the amount of foreign aid going to health organizations. Instead, it will take the funds from groups that do not agree to the new terms and redistribute them to groups that do. Officials have also said they will monitor how much impact the new rule has, according to BuzzFeed News, but the president of the Center for Health and Gender Equity in D.C. is skeptical.
“There’s no indication that the Trump administration has conducted any assessment of the impact of this expansion,” Serra Sippel said. “It has nothing to do with evidence. It has nothing to do with global health.”