Alongside other big executive orders issued on Monday, Trump has reinstated the “Mexico City Policy” which prevents NGOs that receive federal funding from performing or educating women about abortion services. The policy, first enacted by Reagan in 1984, has been a back-and-forth issue throughout the administrations since its first passage. Republican presidents have all upheld the policy, while democratic presidents have rescinded the order and allowed for the work of NGOs in women’s health to continue abortion education and services. However, now that it has been reenacted, what does this mean for the millions of Third World women who depend on the NGOs receiving federal funding?
According to the Indian Express, this will have a tremendous effect on the access to women’s health services and contraception in rural India, who had previously been relying on a 21 million dollar subsidy from the united $tates government, leaving many women completely without options and resources. This raises the question of dependency and the neoliberalization of so-called assistance to Third World countries. Why is it that millions of women all over the world see their reliable access to women’s health resources hinged completely on the conscience of the amerikan voters? Furthermore, can the network of NGOs actually provide a reliable long-term solution to the issue of women’s health throughout the Third World?
The role of NGOs have primarily been to fill the void of social services typically provided by the state, basics like healthcare, access to clean water, and housing. The neoliberal era has seen a dramatic shift from state-supported social services to a predominantly private system. As a result, these new private organizations must operate as economically viable organizations drawing funding from somewhere, which more often than not is reliant on the philanthropy of wealthy citizens or, in this case, the imperialist government of the united $tates. This neoliberal era of privatization, NGOs, and “free trade” has created an even more desperate situation in the Third World, putting much of the social services people depend on directly in the hands of imperialist backers.
This is fundamentally related to the issue of independence in the Third World, of amerikan parasitism and neoliberal so-called assistance. It is precisely the work of the united $tates that women in India are reliant on these NGOs to provide them with health services, and now they are crossing their fingers every election that the amerikan population does not vote away their access to those services. The people of the Third World cannot truly be free until they have taken the issues of women’s healthcare, and the whole management of public health and services, into their own hands and ended the parasitic and dependent relationship to the imperialist core.
This is one of the driving reasons that has fueled the Naxalite insurgency (of whom more than half are women), the New People’s Army in the Philippines, and the anti-imperialist revolutionaries all throughout the Third World. In so many ways the imperialists both present themselves as the primary obstacle to economic independence and self-sufficiency, and simultaneously the only path to the necessary services which the Third World masses—particularly women—depend on for their survival. The contradiction presented by the Mexico City Policy only highlights a much deeper issue of dependency and the prospects for independence in Third World countries.
We must not legitimize amerikan domination of the Third World through the control of vital social services. Our response should not be a petition to Trump to rescind the order, but rather to back the communists and anti-imperialists who are posing genuine people’s power as an alternative to a dependency on neoliberal NGOs.