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Trump’s Expanded Gag Rule Jeopardizes Vulnerable Women, Children and Communities Worldwide

Washington, DC – Women’s health champions in Congress introduced legislation on Tuesday to permanently repeal the expanded global gag rule, which prevents international organizations from receiving any U.S. global health assistance if they provide, counsel, refer or advocate for abortion services – even if they are doing so with their own, non-U.S. funds and even if abortion is legal in their own country. The Global Health, Empowerment, and Rights (HER) Act would permanently repeal the global gag rule, ensuring that eligible foreign NGOs can continue to operate U.S.-supported health programs abroad. The bill was introduced by women’s health champion Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-NY-17) in the House, with 128 cosponsors, and by Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) in the Senate, with bipartisan support from Susan Collins (R-ME), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and 44 additional cosponsors.

The Global HER Act is a bold and necessary counter to President Trump’s dangerous executive order, which will deny lifesaving care to millions of the world’s most vulnerable women in the name of politics,” said Cecile Richards, president, Planned Parenthood Action Fund. “Putting the expanded global gag rule in place will destroy crucial global health programs around the world, and will 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. I urge Members of Congress to support the Global HER Act.

Already, over 140 U.S.-based organizations have signed an open statement to oppose the reimposition of the global gag rule.

You can watch a whiteboard video with Cecile Richards explaining the history and impact of the global gag rule here. The video was made before the recent reinstatement of the expanded rule.

The Global HER Act would benefit women, children and communities around the world by preventing politics from interfering with global health. The proposed law would permanently repeal the global gag rule by ensuring that eligible foreign NGOs can continue to operate U.S.-supported health programs abroad, particularly those that provide legal health services to women – including counseling, referral, and legal abortion services – with their own, non-U.S. funds.  The global gag rule interferes with the doctor-patient relationship, limits free speech, and impedes women’s access to health services. It may also reverse positive trends in global health; for example, maternal mortality rates have declined over the last decade, and family planning, which prevents unsafe abortion, was a key factor in this.

Yesterday, President Donald Trump reinstated an expanded version of the harmful global gag rule which, for the first time ever, targets international organizations who work on any U.S. funded global health program, including HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment, maternal and child health, and Zika programs. Previously, when in effect, this policy only applied to U.S. international family planning assistance.