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Legislation is the only way to end harmful global gag rule once and for all

WASHINGTON — Earlier today, President Biden took action to end the devastating global gag rule, stopping the U.S. policy of blocking critical health care access across the globe — for now. Today, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Reps. Barbara Lee (D-CA-13), Ami Bera (D-CA-7), and Jan Schakowsky (D-IL-9) in the U.S. Senate and House took the next step to end this neocolonialist policy once and for all by introducing the Global Health, Empowerment, and Rights (HER) Act with support from 47 bipartisan senators and 174 representatives as original cosponsors and 136 diverse organizations.

Statement from Alexis McGill Johnson, president, Planned Parenthood Action Fund:

“Since 1984, the global gag rule has come and gone with each party shift in the White House. President Biden took an important step today to stop the harmful rule, but more must be done to permanently end this policy. Study after study has demonstrated that this neocolonialist policy devastates health care access for people around the world, especially those who already face systemic barriers to care. This administration and Congress must work together to bar future presidents from rolling back access to essential health care with a flick of their pen. We must pass the Global HER Act and stop allowing this cruel pendulum to swing with every new administration. We applaud Sen. Shaheen and Reps. Lee, Bera, and Schakowsky for introducing this legislation today and look forward to working with them to get this bill passed.”

The global gag rule prohibits foreign non-governmental organizations from receiving any U.S. global health assistance if they provide information, referrals, or services for legal abortion, or advocate for the legalization of abortion in their country — even if these activities are supported solely with non-U.S. funds. This cruel rule has played politics with people’s health and lives for more than 35 years. It was originally imposed by the Reagan administration, before being rescinded in 1993 by President Clinton, and then reinstated in 2001 by President Bush on his first business day in office. President Obama rescinded the global gag rule in January 2009, but less than a decade later, President Trump was able to impose a more severe version of the policy, extending its harm and devastation to even more women and communities.  

The Global HER Act would permanently repeal the global gag rule, protecting access to sexual and reproductive health care across the globe from the whims of U.S. presidents.

Because of the global gag rule, marginalized communities — including women and girls, young people, and LGBTQ+ people — have experienced the most devastating constraints on services. 70% of Americans favor ending the global gag rule. Its permanent repeal will be celebrated by diverse communities across the globe who have watched it disrupt a range of health services, silence health care providers and advocates, and undermine human rights, for far too long. 

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Planned Parenthood Action Fund is an independent, nonpartisan, not-for-profit membership organization formed as the advocacy and political arm of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. The Action Fund engages in educational, advocacy and electoral activity, including grassroots organizing, legislative advocacy, and voter education.

For more than 45 years, Planned Parenthood Global has supported access to sexual and reproductive health care and advocated for reproductive rights around the world. In partnership with more than 100 organizations across 9 focus countries in Africa and Latin America, we advance the health and rights of young people, women and families, with an emphasis on the most vulnerable and underserved. Last year, our partners provided over 1.8 million people with sexual and reproductive health information and services. Our unique sustainability model sets us apart, as we empower partners to stand on their own. We help grassroots organizations develop solid reproductive health programs, identify other sources of funding, build their communications and advocacy skills, and develop strategic plans. Planned Parenthood Global is the international arm of Planned Parenthood Federation of America.