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Eight Countries Battle Trump's Anti-Abortion Gag Rule

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Eight countries have come together to battle the international anti-abortion rule that President Donald Trump reinstated and expanded.

Sweden, Denmark, Belgium, Luxembourg, Finland, Canada and Cape Verde have all joined The Netherlands in an effort to raise $600 million over the next four years. The money will go toward supporting health organizations that may be affected by the global gag rule, sometimes called the Mexico City Policy.

Swedish Deputy Prime Minister for International Development Cooperation and Climate Isabella Lovin announced a conference to kick-start the fundraising, to be held March 2.

"[The gag order] could be so dangerous for so many women," Lovin told Reuters. "If women don't have control over their bodies and their own fate it can have very serious consequences for global goals of gender rights and global poverty eradication."

The "global gag rule" was initially introduced in 1984 by the Reagan administration. It prevents any organization from receiving U.S. funding if it provides abortions or information about abortions to women.

The rule has served to set the tone for an administration's abortion policies. Every Republican president since President Ronald Reagan reinstated the rule and every Democrat since has abolished it.

Trump went above the average reinstatement of the global gag order and expanded its impact. The previous orders applied to funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development and the State Department, but the new policy extends to all U.S. departments and agencies.

The new version could affect funding for a wide variety of health-related efforts around the world, from HIV/AIDS prevention to child nutrition education. The full magnitude of the potential effects have yet to be calculated.

"Government agencies are still scrambling to figure out what this means," Guttmacher Institute policy analyst Sneha Barot told The New Yorker. "There have been no official guidelines issued. But this is not the global gag rule we know. This is a whole new policy."

Even without these expansions, the global gag rule has the potential to harm women throughout the world. Countries in sub-Saharan Africa saw notable increases in abortion rates under the last global gag rule, the Los Angeles Times reports. The Center for Reproductive Rights points out that the global gag order promotes censorship and hinders reproductive education.

Sources: Reuters, The New Yorker, Los Angeles Times, Center for Reproductive Rights / Photo credit: News Oresund/Flickr

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