Press Release: Coalition Statement Opposing Reinstatement of the Global Gag Rule

For Immediate Release:

June 2015

Rachel Cooke,
Advocates for Youth

202.419.3420 x45 rachel@advocatesforyouth.org

We join together as diverse voices from a variety of sectors to oppose any effort to reinstate the harmful global gag rule, also known as the Mexico City Policy. While the Helms Amendment restricts U.S. foreign assistance funding for abortions “as a method of family planning,” the global gag rule goes a step further by preventing foreign organizations using their own funds to provide information, referrals, or services for legal abortion or to advocate for access to abortion services in their own country from receiving U.S. international family planning assistance.

The global gag rule causes serious harm in countries around the world. The policy interferes with the doctor-patient relationship by restricting medical information healthcare providers may offer, limits free speech by prohibiting local citizens from participating in public policy debates, and impedes women’s access to family planning by cutting off funding for many of the most experienced health care providers who have chosen to prioritize quality reproductive-health services and counseling over funding that restricts care and censors information.

When in place, the negative impacts of the global gag rule have been broad and severe: health services have been dismantled in a number of communities; clinics that provided a range of reproductive, maternal, and child health care, including HIV testing and counseling, were forced to close; outreach efforts to hard to reach populations were eliminated; and access to contraceptives was severely limited, resulting in more unintended pregnancies and more unsafe abortions. Here is the testimony of one organization that experienced the impact of the global gag rule when it was last in place:

“After refusing the terms of the gag rule in 2001, at Family Health Options Kenya we lost a significant amount of funding from USAID with serious and damaging effects on our ability to provide crucial reproductive health and family planning services. We were forced to close six clinics, all of which provided critical services to poor and underserved populations in urban, peri-urban and rural areas including family planning, voluntary counseling and testing for HIV, management of sexually transmitted infections, post-abortion care and maternal and child health services. Following the closure of these clinics in 2005, at least 9,000 people – primarily women and children – were left with little or no access to health care.” – FHOK, 2013

Countries around the world are making significant progress in improving women’s health and bringing back this harmful policy would undermine that momentum. Developing and donor countries alike are stepping up to prioritize and make tangible headway in closing the gap on access to modern family planning through increased funding and better policies. This momentum, which includes global partnerships like Family Planning 2020, builds on the essential foundation of U.S. investments in this sector. A reinstatement of the gag rule would seriously hinder the effectiveness of U.S. global health investments and the growing global progress that we, as a global community, have made in expanding access to family planning for couples worldwide and in reducing maternal mortality.

The U.S. should be a leader when it comes to promoting democracy, women’s health, and human rights around the world. U.S. foreign aid should never be used as a tool to limit women’s access to health care or to censor free speech. Organizations should not be disqualified from receiving U.S. assistance because they use their own funds to provide health services and information that are legal in their home country and legal in the U.S. Supporters of women’s health and free speech must oppose the harmful global gag rule and we call on Congress to reject all efforts to again impose this policy on women around the world.

Endorsing Organizations:

  1. Advocates for Youth
  2. AIDS Foundation of Chicago
  3. AIDS United
  4. American Association of University Women (AAUW)
  5. American Civil Liberties Union
  6. American Humanist Association
  7. American Jewish World Service
  8. amfAR (The Foundation for AIDS Research)
  9. Amnesty International USA
  10. AVAC
  11. Black Women’s Health Imperative
  12. CARE USA
  13. Catholics for Choice
  14. Center for Biological Diversity
  15. Center for Health and Gender Equity (CHANGE)
  16. Center for Reproductive Rights
  17. Center for Women Policy Studies
  18. Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights (COLOR)
  19. Disciple Public Witness; Disciples of Christ
  20. Disciples for Choice
  21. Disciples Justice Action Network
  22. Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation
  23. EngenderHealth
  24. Family Care International
  25. Feminist Majority
  26. Global Doctors for Choice
  27. Global Youth Coalition on HIV/AIDS (GYCA)
  28. Healthy Teen Network
  29. Institute for Science and Human Values
  30. International Center for Research on Women
  31. International Planned Parenthood Federation
  32. International Planned Parenthood/Western Hemisphere Region
  33. International Women’s Health Coalition
  34. IntraHealth International
  35. Ipas
  36. John Snow, Inc.
  37. JWI
  38. Lutheran Women’s Caucus
  39. Management Sciences for Health
  40. Marie Stopes International-US
  41. Medical Students for Choice
  42. Methodist Federation for Social Action
  43. NARAL Pro-Choice America
  44. National Abortion Federation
  45. National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF)
  46. National Center for Lesbian Rights
  47. National Council of Jewish Women
  48. National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association
  49. National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health
  50. National LGBTQ Task Force
  51. National Organization for Women
  52. National Partnership for Women & Families
  53. National Women’s Law Center
  54. PAI
  55. Partners for Development
  56. Pathfinder International
  57. Physicians for Reproductive Health
  58. Planned Parenthood Federation of America
  59. Population Connection Action Fund
  60. Population Council
  61. Population Institute
  62. Population Services International
  63. Positive Women’s Network – USA
  64. Religious Institute
  65. Reproductive Health Technologies Project
  66. Sierra Club
  67. SisterLove, Inc.
  68. Society for Humanistic Judaism
  69. The Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice
  70. Union for Reform Judaism
  71. Unitarian Universalist Association
  72. Unitarian Universalist Women’s Federation
  73. United Methodist General Board of Church & Society
  74. URGE: Unite for Reproductive & Gender Equity
  75. WIN (Women’s Information Network)
  76. Women of Reform Judaism
  77. Women Thrive Worldwide
  78. Women’s Refugee Commission
  79. Women’s Research & Education Institute