Trump brings back anti-abortion rule for US NGOs

US President Donald Trump has reinstated a global gag rule that bans US-funded groups around the world from discussing abortion.

The rule, which affects American non-governmental organisations working abroad, is one that incoming presidents have used to signal their positions on abortion rights.

Mr Trump, an abortion opponent, signed the reinstatement directive at a ceremony in the White House on his fourth day in office.

Former President Barack Obama had lifted the gag rule in 2009 when he took office.

The move was widely expected but nonetheless dismayed women's rights advocates.

"Women's health and rights are now one of the first casualties of the Trump administration," said Serra Sippel, president of the Center for Health and Gender Equity in Washington.

"The global gag rule has been associated with an increase in unsafe abortions and we expect that Trump's global gag rule will cost women their lives."

Reinstatement of the gag rule, formally the Mexico City policy, comes just two days after crowds of people marched in cities around the world in a show of unity for women's rights, among them abortion access.

While no official estimates were available, organisers said nearly five million people took part.