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The global gag rule and what to do about it

BMJ 2017; 356 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.j511 (Published 01 February 2017) Cite this as: BMJ 2017;356:j511
  1. Scott L Greer, associate professor of global health1,
  2. Sarah D Rominski, research assistant professor2
  1. 1Department of Health Management and Policy, University of Michigan School of Public Health
  2. 2Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Michigan Medical School

Since Ronald Reagan was president, banning and unbanning the use of US aid to support agencies that discuss abortion or refer patients to abortion services has been a partisan tradition. Republican presidents make a point of ordering the ban in their first days in office, and Democrats make a point of rescinding it. In this, as in many other ways, Donald Trump is an ordinary Republican. On his third day in office he signed his new version of the executive order.1

The order is known as the “Mexico City policy,” after its first enunciation in 1984 in Mexico City, or as the “global gag rule,” because it effectively blocks US support to any organisation that even discusses abortion as a form of family planning. US support for organisations that provide abortion has been illegal by statute since …

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