Trump Takes Tragic Step Backwards with Abortion Ruling
So much has happened since mid-January, and one of the first actions of President Trump was to reinstate what is known as the global gag rule — removing funding from any foreign aid group that provides abortions, abortion facilities or abortion education outside of the United States.
The policy extends to birth control as well as abortion, meaning countless women in the developing world will now die through botched home abortions and births without proper medical aid. As well, many more will be forced to have children when they have neither the food or the resources to care for them.
It is nothing short of a disaster.
White House press spokesperson Sean Spicer said the policy represents the values of the President, when in fact Trump was pro-choice until he entered the presidential race and then explained that women should be punished for having abortions.
Right-wing Christian magazines and blogs are performing liturgical dances of delight at all this, made all the more euphoric by the announcement that conservative judges would be appointed to the Supreme Court, leading to more anti-choice decisions and support for those individuals and States opposed to equal marriage.
The abortion ruling does less than it appears, in that, since 1973 there have been severe restrictions on aid groups supporting reproductive rights in Africa and Asia.
This goes further, however, and the rationale behind it is poisonous.
First, the assumption is that groups working in dangerous and difficult conditions in areas of poverty and conflict are obsessed with abortion. That is pure fantasy.
They are dedicated, informed men and women working to improve the lives of the vulnerable, and none are more vulnerable than women in the Third World.
Second, abortion has never been forced on anyone, but family planning and termination is made available if desired. This is not some lifestyle choice but a cry for hope in circumstances that are often hideous. The alternative to an abortion is not a happy, healthy mother and baby but frequently a sick or dead mother and baby.
Yet Christian conservatives in North America apparently know far more than local activists thousands of miles away about all of this. Abortion is for them the great sin, the great crime that is screaming out for justice, and it doesn’t matter how many suffer or even perish.
They demanded Trump act, and this man with so little regard for female dignity did just what was asked.
The moral dysfunction goes even deeper. One of the most important methods of reducing abortion rates is to provide good and modern sex education and cheap or free contraceptives. This new measure makes both of those difficult if not impossible. It’s a cycle of cruelty and even more pernicious that it comes from a man who we all know is indifferent to the issue.
There is a whiff of triumphalism in the air with the Christian right at the moment, and they will surely push for the reversal of Roe V Wade and for the introduction of so-called protection of religion legislation, a euphemism for the promotion of homophobia.
Franklin Graham spoke warmly of his new best friend the President at the inauguration, and there is a whole crew of prosperity preachers, Baptist and Pentecostal ministers and right-wing Roman Catholic laypeople who are now surrounding the Trump regime.
They have the time, resources, money — Graham alone is paid $800,000 US a year by his charity and earns more beyond — and now the influence.
The US election unleashed many worrying forces and enabled all sorts of previously bashful ideas. What begins in the United States often travels north, and a lot of people inside the Conservative Party are learning very quickly indeed. Be prepared, be very prepared indeed.
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