Congress Should Reject Harmful Policies that Prevent Women Abroad from Accessing Critical Health Care in Budget Negotiations
For Immediate Release: June 3, 2015
WASHINGTON, DC -- Planned Parenthood Action Fund calls on Congress to reject harmful anti-women’s health measures included in the House FY16 State, Foreign-Operations funding bill, including attempts to reinstate the “global gag rule,” which interferes with women served by U.S. foreign aid from getting basic information about reproductive health care. The bill will be marked up in the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Wednesday, June 3.
You can watch a white board video with Cecile Richards explaining the history and impact of the global gag rule here:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4iqVKMgNMGg&feature=youtu.be
Statement from Cecile Richards, President, Planned Parenthood Action Fund:
“Congress should reject any anti-women’s health provisions in the funding bill, including the global gag rule, a harmful policy that prevents women abroad from accessing critical health care. Many countries are stepping up to better address women’s needs by investing in health programs and advancing policies that expand access to critical lifesaving services. Putting the gag rule back in place would seriously impede countries’ efforts to improve women’s health. The U.S. should build on, not stand in the way of, progress at home and abroad.”
In addition to a reinstatement of the harmful global gag rule, the House FY16 State, Foreign-Operations funding bill contains multiple harmful provisions that undermine access to family planning and reproductive health information and services for women around the world, including a harsh $149 million cut to lifesaving international family planning programs and a ban on funding for UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, a principal provider of reproductive and maternal health care in over 150 countries worldwide, including crisis and conflict settings.
Background on the Global Gag Rule: The global gag rule has played politics with women’s health and lives for over 30 years — and Congress should end it once and for all, not reinstate this failed policy.
- The global gag rule (also known as the Mexico City Policy) was originally put in place by President Reagan in 1984. It withheld U.S. family planning funding from any foreign organizations that offered abortion information, referrals, or services with their own, non-U.S. funds. Foreign organizations also had to give up their right to advocate for abortion-related policy change in their own country as a condition of receiving U.S. family planning assistance.
- When in place, the global gag rule interferes with the doctor-patient relationship by restricting accurate information that health care providers may offer, restricts freedom of speech for local citizens, and impedes women's access to family planning by cutting off funding for many of the most experienced health care providers.
- The harm caused by the global gag rule is serious and significant. For example, when the policy was last in effect, a community health organization in Ghana saw a 50 percent rise in women seeking treatment for complications from unsafe abortions, since the law cut off that leading organization's access to family planning funding.
- Since this destructive policy was put in place over 30 years ago, it has been lifted by every Democratic president and reinstated by every Republican president. Most recently, President Obama rescinded the global gag rule in January 2009 and it is not currently in place, despite numerous attempts by congressional opponents of reproductive health to reinstate it.
- The Global Democracy Promotion Act has been introduced in the Senate with bipartisan support and would block a future anti-women's health president from reinstating the harmful global gag rule, which prohibits foreign organizations receiving U.S. international family planning funds from providing information, referrals, or services for legal abortion or for advocating for the legalization of abortion in their own country — even if these activities are supported with their own, non-U.S. funding.
- You can read an editorial from the New York Times here: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/20/opinion/a-potential-world-of-harm-for-women.html