End the Global Gag Rule

As the world’s largest bilateral family planning donor, the U.S. should build on, not stand in the way of progress. But for over 30 years, a harmful policy known as the global gag rule has played politics with women’s health and lives around the world.

What is the Global Gag Rule?

The global gag rule (also known as the Mexico City policy) was first introduced by President Reagan. Separate law already restricts U.S. foreign assistance funding for abortions overseas.  The global gag rule goes a step further and prevents any foreign organization receiving U.S. international family planning funds from providing information, referrals, or services for legal abortion or advocating for access to abortion services in their country — even with their own money.

Watch Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, explain the impact of this harmful policy:

What does this mean on the ground?

When in place, the global gag rule forces health care providers  to chose between U.S. family planning assistance and the ability to counsel and provide clients with an accurate and full range of safe and legal reproductive health options. The global gag rule seriously impedes countries’ efforts to improve women’s health and undermines civic participation.

What’s more — because the global gag rule went into effect under President Reagan, was removed by President Clinton, was reinstated under President George W. Bush and then removed again by President Obama in his first week in office — many organizations in developing countries don’t trust that the policy is gone and won’t come back.

The U.S. needs to show strong leadership when it comes to promoting women’s health and free speech around the world.  Yet every year opponents of women’s health try to re-impose the global gag rule.  Politicians in Washington should not be interfering in a woman’s personal medical decision about her pregnancy, in this country or anywhere in the world.  As Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund has said, “U.S. foreign aid should never be used as a tool to limit women’s access to health care or to impose unfair restrictions on the decision-making ability of independent organizations overseas.  The women of the world need information and services, not censorship and restrictions.”

Champions of women’s health are fighting back by supporting the Global Democracy Promotion Act, a bill that would block a future anti-women’s health president from reinstating the harmful global gag rule.

Support their efforts, and let’s end the global gag rule for good.