White House Official Says Regulations Clarifying Mexico City Policy Memorandum Forthcoming; Rules May Differ Significantly From Than Previous Versions

BuzzFeed News: The White House Has Finally Said More About What Its Global Anti-Abortion Rule Means
“A White House official on Thursday clarified a new policy that renews abortion-related restrictions on global health funding, suggesting that the new version [of the Mexico City policy] may be even more restrictive than previously understood. … The previous version of the policy exempted hospitals or clinics that don’t offer abortion. It also carved out an exemption that allowed health facilities to treat women with complications from illegal or unsafe abortions without putting the facilities’ U.S. funding at risk. White House Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said the Trump administration has not decided on similar exemptions yet. ‘The [George W.] Bush regulations implementing this policy excluded hospitals,’ she wrote in an email responding to questions on the policy from BuzzFeed News. ‘We will be issuing regulations as well, and may very well address the issue of hospitals there.’ Sanders’ statement is significant. It’s the first time a Trump administration official has suggested that hospitals may have to agree to the so-called gag rule as a condition to receive global health assistance. It’s also the administration’s first clear indication that it may depart from the ground rules laid out last time the policy was enacted. But the clarification also raises more questions. The Bush-era ground rules stipulated that the policy applied to ‘foreign nongovernmental organizations’ and that foreign governments were specifically exempted. Trump’s language omits the word ‘nongovernmental,’ and Sanders didn’t mention exemptions for foreign governments. She did not reply on Thursday to an email requesting more details…” (Moore/Nocera, 1/26).

Vox: Trump’s global abortion gag rule goes much further than any previous administration
“…Traditionally, the gag rule, when in place, has banned all international nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) that receive USAID family planning funding from mentioning abortion to patients, as well as curtailed their ability to use outside funding to provide abortions. Now, with the Trump administration’s change, experts say the gag rule will apply to 15 times more funding than it used to. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit organization focused on health issues, the policy will now apply to aid money coming not just from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), as before, but also from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Department of Health and Human Services, [and] the National Institutes of Health (NIH) … The global health world is reeling, and it’s still unclear how this will all play out. But the implications could potentially be enormous…” (Wildman, 1/26).

The KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report summarized news and information on global health policy from hundreds of sources, from May 2009 through December 2020. All summaries are archived and available via search.

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