US says abortion gag rule cost only 4 organizations funding

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration said Wednesday that only four international organizations and a dozen of their local partners have refused to accept new rules for spending U.S. assistance that ban health care funds from being used to promote or perform abortions overseas. The International Planned Parenthood Federation is among those that declined.

The administration said that out of 733 organizations whose funding came up for renewal under the new restrictions, 729 had agreed to the rules and had their grants approved as of the end of the last budget year in September. Another roughly 500 grants had not been subjected to the new criteria as of Sept. 30, 2017, but will before the end of the current fiscal year, it said.

The figures came in a review of the implementation of President Donald Trump’s reinstitution of the so-called “Mexico City” rule, which denies U.S. funding to organizations that conduct abortion-related services. Trump signed an order reinstating what critics term the “global gag rule” and expanding it to cover all U.S. global health assistance on his first working day in office. Previous Republican presidents had limited the provision to reproductive health programs.

Officials who briefed reporters on the findings of the review were not immediately able to provide the amounts of the declined grants or those that had been approved. The U.S. is the world’s largest health donor and provides about $8.8 billion in such assistance each year. The Kaiser Family Foundation had estimated that at least 1,275 foreign non-governmental organizations that receive about $2.2 billion in U.S. health funding could be affected by the expanded rule.

The officials said that any money declined by organizations would be given to organizations offering similar services in the same countries and that the new rule would not reduce U.S. global health funding.

“It is too early to analyze systematically what effect, if any, this will have on programming,” said the report, which was posted to the State Department website. “When a partner declines to agree to the policy and the department or agency reprograms funds to other organizations, the amount of funding directed to respective recipient countries will remain the same.”

The officials would not name the organizations that had refused to accept the restrictions but noted that both Planned Parenthood and the London-based Marie Stopes International have said publicly they had declined. Last month, Planned Parenthood, which works in 29 countries, said it expected to lose $100 million in funding. Marie Stopes said it would face a funding gap of $80 million in the 37 countries where it works.