Justin Sullivan/Getty Images News/Getty Images

The Trump Administration's Language On Women's Health Isn't Telling The Whole Story

Ad failed to load

On Feb. 6, the State Department of the Trump administration released a six-month review of the "Mexico City Policy," which is more commonly known as the Global Gag Rule. That rule impacts funding for non-governmental organizations (NGOs) based on their work with abortion services, whether through provision, consultation, or public discourse. Two weeks later, on Feb. 21, Politico reported that the State Department is editing language on women's reproductive rights in their annual report on global human rights. Between these two reports, it's become increasingly clear that the Trump administration's language on women's health is leaving out vital information, at best, and misleading at worst.

According to Politico, officials from the State Department were told to take out information about both women's health and discrimination (based on race, ethnicity, and sexuality) from an annual report on human rights around the world. In terms of women's health specifically, the officials were told to edit out information about reproductive rights, including views on family planning and access to contraceptives and abortion.

A State Department spokesperson tells Elite Daily that they are following the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961's requirement to report on coercive family planning practices (like coerced abortion and involuntary sterilization). The spokesperson claims that the report still includes issues required by the law, although it may not be listed under the title of "reproductive rights," which was used during the Obama administration. They say that information about maternal mortality, contraception, and similar issues is also available from the United Nations.

Ad failed to load

"Failing to call out human rights violations because they pertain to reproductive rights is a disgrace," Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights said in a statement about the Politico report. "Obscuring and censoring mentions of discrimination against women sends the signal that the U.S. tacitly condones marginalization of women and girls around the world."

Northup was joined in her outrage by many other supporters of women's rights, including former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. On Feb. 22, Clinton tweeted the Politico report, with a reference to her famous 1995 speech in Beijing on women. "Women’s rights are human rights," Clinton tweeted. "That was a radical idea back in 1995. It shouldn’t still be two decades later."

Ad failed to load

Donald Trump reinstated the Global Gag Rule in one of his first actions as president in January 2017. The rule essentially says that if an NGO wants to get funding from the U.S., they have to agree to not provide abortions, refer patients to safe abortion providers, or consult on abortions. Trump's version of the rule ("Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance," or PLGHA), which is regularly implemented by Republican presidents and repealed by Democratic presidents, was expanded to apply to more funding. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson approved the plan for the rule in May 2017, and the six-month review came out in early February 2018.

To its credit, the State Department's six-month review of the Global Gag Rule is at least transparent that "with less than six months of policy implementation, it is too early to assess the full range of benefits and challenges of the PLGHA policy for global health assistance." However, the information that is included in the review does not paint an accurate picture of the effects of the rule, according to women's health experts.

Ad failed to load

According to the State Department review, only four prime recipients and 12 sub-prime recipients of funding have rejected the rule while 733 awards have been given. However, Rebecca Brown, Director of Global Advocacy at the Center for Reproductive Rights, tells me in an interview for Elite Daily that most prime recipients are U.S.-based organizations, which are not required to sign the Global Gag Rule, which applies to non-U.S. NGOs. Meanwhile, there are over 500 prime recipients who did not have to make a decision about the rule in the time period that the review covered. "It’s unclear about how they’re capturing this data and what data they’re choosing to represent," Brown says.

"This incomplete review tells a misleading story that President Trump wants the public to hear. The truth is that the effects of the global gag rule will be far reaching and deadly," Latanya Mapp Frett, Executive Director of Planned Parenthood Global, said in a statement. NGOs have already reported the devastating effects funding cuts have had on their ability to provide care to women and families in impoverished areas. That impact goes beyond abortion care — without funding, NGOs can't provide general reproductive services, cancer screenings, HIV treatment, and more.

Ad failed to load

And the impact, Brown tells me, goes even beyond funding and care. As the review notes, many organizations are uncertain about the limits of the rule and how they have to act in order to still get funding. That has led to "an over-interpretation of what the rule requires," Brown says.

"This chilling effect is not something that’s easily measured," Brown says. She has seen coalitions and trust between groups working to improve overall women's health break down as organizations fear losing funding for so much as discussing abortion — which is especially true because of the lack of understanding about the limits of the rule. Brown says that because of that lack of clarity, "organizations have decided to cancel meetings that they were either holding or going to attend," and have withdrawn from work on broader issues like maternal health over a concern that abortion will come up in conversations.

The six-month review did note that there was confusion about how the rule works, and the State Department noted that clarifications should be made. However, that clarification won't stop the massive impact of the rule itself. "The U.S., through this policy, is turning its back on the rights of women and girls," Brown says.

Ad failed to load

The Global Gag Rule is an attempt to stop abortions from happening. But, Brown says, "it only makes the procedure less safe. The rule is undermining [women's] rights to life, to health, to information." So far, the information that Trump's State Department is putting out about the state of women's health across the world is not reflecting their own damaging impact.

Ad failed to load

Must Reads

These 3 Zodiac Signs Will Have The Worst Mercury Retrograde, But Here's How To Deal

Starting on Mar. 23, 2018, the dreaded Mercury retrograde will permeate our world with confusion. If you don't know what this astrological buzzword means, it's when Mercury appears to be rolling back in its orbit around the sun. Since this planet rul…
By Roya Backlund

7 Women On The One Thing That Finally Made Them Feel Like An Adult After College

How does one "adult?" From the minute second semester hits senior year and they hand you your diploma at graduation, you're wondering just what the real world is going to be like. You started applying for jobs and scoping out cute apartments with you…
By Marisa Casciano

The Perfect Festival Look For You, Based On Your Zodiac Sign

It's officially spring, but the only season that's really on my radar is festival season. April showers bring May flowers, and it's a good thing because I need all the daisies in the world for oh-so-chic and classic crowns. You've scrolled through th…
By Marisa Casciano

Here’s Everything Coming To Netflix In April

Another month, another batch of new shows and movies to binge on Netflix. The streaming service just released its full list of the iconic favorites and new originals that will be showing up in your Netflix queue in about a week and a half, and it als…
By Dylan Kickham

Why It's Totally OK To Not Have A Game Plan In Your 20s & Just Wing It

One of the worst questions you are faced with in your 20s is: What is your 10-year plan? It's like people expect you to hand over a detailed map of your destiny when you reach a new decade in your life, and want you to be able to elaborate your coord…
By Jasmine Vaughn-Hall

These 10 Dreamy Travel Quotes Are Perfect Tattoos For The Girl With Wanderlust

Travelers are curious, wild, and free. They're always in pursuit of the next big adventure and they never fail to share the value of discovering the unknown. However, sometimes life gets the best of us. Sometimes, our greatest passions get pushed to …
By Ciara Johnson

I Rejected The Idea Of "The One" & Found A Whole New Method Of Self-Care

After my third date with a guy I met by swiping right, I had one question burned into my brain before I agreed to a fourth. Was he the one? Now, before you call me a total stalker, hear me out. In New York City, third dates were rare. I'm talking blo…
By Brittany Leitner

I Tried A Laughter Yoga Class & I Nearly Peed My Pants From Giggling So Hard

There's nothing funny about yoga, except for the fact that, if you look at yourself in the mirror while your body twists like a giant pretzel you'd nibble on at a baseball game, you do look kind of funny. Well, actually, you look a little like you're…
By Jen Glantz

12 Dreamy Travel Goals To Shoot For Before Hitting 30, Because Why Not?

Your 20s is a time to find yourself, try new things, meet new people, and see the world. It's a time when you're still figuring this whole life thing out. Your 20s can be tough, but they can still be whole lot of fun. It seems like you're on a never-…
By Ciara Johnson

Experts Say Doing This One Thing In The Morning Will Make You Way More Productive

I don’t know about you, but I don’t initially wake up in the morning feeling like P-Diddy; that whole “up and at ‘em” mindset takes work on weekdays. I will say, however, that I am a morning person by nature, and fully believe in the benefits of stic…
By Julia Guerra

A Psychic Read My Crystals & Said I'd Die Alone, But Then Everything Changed

I love my girlfriend for many reasons. She's the most amazing person I've ever met. She makes me feel safe. She screams the soundtrack to Dear Evan Hansen with me when we're riding in her car. But TBH, one of the main reasons I love her so much is th…
By Theresa Massony

This Instagram Star's Famous Lip Art Actually Has An Incredible Emotional Backstory

In a post-Kardashian world, every millennial thinks they have what it takes to go viral, but few consider what that online fame actually looks like in a person's daily life. In Elite Daily's new series, Life Behind The Likes, we speak with the people…
By Lilli Petersen

A New 'This Is Us' Theory Claims It's All Happening Inside Jack's Head & OMG

Ever since This is Us revealed how Jack died in their post-Super Bowl episode (damn you, Crock Pot) fans have been desperate to know where the show is headed — and if there are any other major twists they should be prepared for. The Season 2 finale i…
By Claire Spellberg

If You're Broke In Your 20s, You're Doing Something Right

It can be pretty disheartening when you're broke AF in your 20s. The silver lining in that constant struggle with currency is that you are doing what you want during this time of your life. Money isn't everything, and creatively and memorably using w…
By Jasmine Vaughn-Hall

How You'll Be Proposed To, Based On Your Zodiac Sign

Forever and always starts with getting down on one knee. Wedding season is right around the corner, and with it comes a lot of love stories. When you're watching the two do their first dance, or looking through old pictures, you remember where it all…
By Marisa Casciano

Gen Z Yellow Is The New Millennial Pink, So I Tried Wearing It All Over My Face

A few months ago, everything from makeup to clothes and even home appliances simply needed to be Millennial Pink. Being a millennial myself, I totally bought into the color craze, but there's a new hue (one that technically doesn't represent me at al…
By Stephanie Montes

These Theories About What Khloé Kardashian Will Name Her Baby Are So, So Good

The Kardashian family's future is most certainly female. The world was overjoyed when Kim K introduced us to her daughter, Chicago. We cried tears of joy when we found out that Kylie was in fact pregnant all along and had a baby girl named Stormi. An…
By Karen Ruffini

This Pup Is Going Viral Because People Think He Looks Like A Human

We all know our pups at home are beyond special. If you post pictures of your pet on social media in hopes that everyone notices just how cute your furry friend is, you're really not alone. You probably receive a bunch of comments with people gushing…
By Rachel Chapman

This Is What Staring At Screens All Day Could Do To Your Eyes In The Long Run

By now, you’ve probably heard all about how bad the glaring blue light from your smartphone and computer screen is for your sleep cycle. These claims are true, BTW, which means if technology has the power to creep inside your brain and mess with your…
By Julia Guerra

These 3 Zodiac Signs Burn Through Relationships The Fastest

It's hard enough to find love in this dog-eat-dog world. You write the perfect bio for your Tinder profile, dress to impress, go on dates with strangers that your friends set you up with, even fork over thousands of dollars to a professional matchmak…
By Roya Backlund

6 Things No One Tells You About Moving In With Your Partner That You Need To Know

If you’ve reached the point in your relationship where you find yourselves spending most of your time together — either at their place or yours — there’s a pretty big chance you’ve thought about living together. Taking this next step in your relation…
By Tayi Sanusi