WASHINGTON – In one of his first acts as president, US president Donald Trump has signed an executive order cutting funding to health groups that advise on abortions.

Trump, an abortion opponent, reinstated the “global gag rule” that bans American money from going to international health organisations that counsel on abortion as a family planning option.

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

“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.”

American money helps 27 million women access contraceptives, with the US Government spending about $600 million a year on international assistance for family planning and reproductive health.