Georgetown Law
Georgetown Law Library

A Brief History of Civil Rights in the United States

This guide offers a history of various movements by citizens in the United States to gain political and social freedom and equality. It highlights resources available through the library and also offers a list of current civil rights organizations.

What's Missing in this Picture?

Men Sign Away Women's Rights to Choose

In his continuing efforts to take the country back to the 1950's, Trump signed an executive order on Monday, January 23, 2017 which would curtail funding to women’s-health organizations by reinstating a Reagan-era policy that prevents U.S. aid from funding any non-governmental organizations providing or advising on abortions.

Reversing a decision that President Obama made immediately after taking office in 2009, Trump signed the Mexico City policy, colloquially known as the “global gag rule,” back into existence. The global gag rule was first put in place by President Ronald Reagan in 1984. It prohibits giving U.S. funding to nongovernmental organizations that offer or advise on a wide range of family planning and reproductive health options if they include abortion ― even if U.S. dollars are not specifically used for abortion-related services. 

Since then, the gag rule has been something of a political bouncy ball, rescinded and reinstated as soon as presidents take office. President Bill Clinton did away with the rule, President George W. Bush reinstated it and then President Barack Obama again revoked it in 2009. 

Trump’s executive order came one day after the anniversary of Roe v. Wade and in the week of the annual March for Life in Washington, D.C. It also occurred two days after millions of people showed up to protest Trump and his policies in women’s marches all over the country and the world.