While we watch the fight for affordable and accessible reproductive health care on our home turf, it is important to keep in mind that the fight extends past our borders and around the world. The Global Gag Rule was first enacted by President Regan in 1984. This dangerous rule prevents foreign organizations receiving U.S. global health assistance from providing information, referrals, or services for legal abortion in their country — even with their own money. Organizations that provide access to contraception, prevent and treat HIV/AIDS, combat malaria, and improve maternal and child health are all affected by the Global Gag Rule.
One person working to fight attacks on reproductive health care globally is New Hampshire Senator Jeanne Shaheen. Senator Shaheen has been a consistent advocate for reproductive health and has introduced the Global Health, Empowerment, and Rights (HER) Act, which would permanently repeal the Global Gag Rule and restore this critical funding. Senator Shaheen introduced the legislation with Representative Nita Lowey from New York.
The Global Gag Rule requires providers to either comply with the dangerous rule in order to maintain their funding, forcing them to restrict the range of service options for patients, or opt out of the funding that’s so critical to helping them care for patients. Providers should not have to compromise the quality of care for their patients in order to receive funding.
The consequences of the Global Gag Rule are real. According to research conducted by Marie Stropes International and the International Planned Parenthood Federation, it is estimated that there are up to 2.1 million unintended pregnancies, 720,000 unsafe abortions, and 5,600 avoidable maternal deaths as the result of the Global Gag Rule.
As women in the United States, we cannot stand for allowing U.S. funds to go to organizations who are forced to give incomplete information to their patients. It is crucial that organizations providing healthcare to people around the world get the funding they need while not compromising care. The Global Gag Rule puts patients in danger of going to unreliable providers and it hurts organizations who are doing the valuable work of making sure that everyone can have complete access to quality health care.
I’m thankful that Senator Shaheen has introduced the Global HER Act to ensure safe reproductive health care access for those in need of it and funding for organizations on the front lines of some of the greatest challenges in international health care. Senator Shaheen is standing up for global reproductive health and protecting the health and safety of people worldwide.