The Global Gag Rule or The Mexico City Policy first took effect under Ronald Reagan in 1985 and stated the following:
“[T]he United States does not consider abortion an acceptable element of family planning programs and will no longer contribute to those of which it is a part. …[T]he United States will no longer contribute to separate nongovernmental organizations which perform or actively promote abortion as a method of family planning in other nations.”
The Mexico City Policy expanded existing restrictions that prohibited U.S. funding for abortion internationally. However, before the policy was reinstated under President Trump as the Global Gag Rule, foreign NGOs could use non-U.S. funds for voluntary abortions and abortion counseling. However, “The Trump administration’s presidential memorandum states that the policy will apply to all U.S. global health assistance (to the extent allowable by law), including but not limited to family planning assistance, and extends prior policy to include all agencies and departments. Currently, the agencies and departments that receive direct appropriations for global health include:
USAID, the Department of State, including the Office of the Global AIDS Coordinator, which oversees and coordinates U.S. global HIV funding under the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR)
Two operating divisions of the Department of Health and Human Services: the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH); and the Department of Defense (DOD).”
I was having a conversation about why Planned Parenthood should/should not be defunded and when I couldn’t get anywhere I finally asked “what do you imagine the inside of Planned Parenthood offices look like?” When they asked what I meant, I asked if they saw a fully functioning medical facility or if they thought is was one big conveyor belt system with women strapped down receiving abortions around the clock like some mad science fiction version of a Looney Tunes nightmare and they replied:
“Well, isn’t that what they do?”
Then I asked if they knew that Planned Parenthood provided health care, cancer screenings, and yearly medical care for women, men, and the lgbtqqia+ community and was met with a blank stare. I realized that I was having a conversation with someone who did not fully understand the expansive healthcare options provided by Planned Parenthood.
I also realized that many people are entering this discussion of defunding PP from this place of being taught to react to catch phrases and slogans instead of responding from an informed perspective of the reality of exactly what PP offers to its patients. But instead of seeking information, it is easier or, more to the point, more comfortable for people to respond in terms of the morality of abortion rather than the idea that healthcare issues and pregnancy prevention education as well as other needed medical attention should be paramount to us as a way to remain healthy and in control of our own lives.
And by that, I mean that we all have the right to demand fair, balanced and affordable healthcare for our bodies; whether the need is for cancer, STD or HIV screening, birth control options or abortions. All, I might add, legal, healthy options for anyone’s day-to-day healthcare.
Unfortunately, abortion has been vilified and used as a buzzword by so many with political aspirations. It is used to incite and divide and start a conversation that derails the real needs of healthcare especially to those who can’t afford other insurance coverage.
If you ask someone what is the first word that pops into their mind when they hear Planned Parenthood most say: abortion.