Illinois action blog

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Global Gag Rule Undermines U.S. Foreign Policy and Harms Women's Health

Yesterday, Congresswoman Nita Lowey introduced the Global Democracy Promotion Act of 2011, a bill that would permanently repeal the Global Gag Rule.  The Global Gag Rule is a policy that has been applied and repealed via executive order at each change in the White House, beginning with Ronald Reagan (apply) in 1984 and most recently with President Obama (repeal) in 2009.

The GGR prohibits international health care providers from receiving U.S. international assistance for family planning if those organizations use other (non-US) funding to provide abortion counseling, referrals, or services, or seek to change laws regarding abortion care in countries in which abortion is a leading cause of death among women ages 15 to 49. Access to contraception and to family planning counseling and information helps women and their partners to plan the number and spacing of children they want to have and to avoid unintended pregnancies that could lead to abortion. As such, by denying U.S. international assistance to groups that also provide safe, legal abortion, the GGR may actually increase the number of abortions, rather than reduce them.

For those foreign organizations that refused to comply with the Gag Rule when it was enforced in the past, the price was not just monetary. In addition to forfeiting financial assistance from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), these organizations lost valuable technical assistance and U.S.-donated contraceptives, including condoms - two critical aspects of USAID’s family planning program. With 215 million women worldwide who want but lack access to modern contraception, the Gag Rule further exacerbates an already dire situation. No other donor can match the U.S’s longstanding leadership and technical expertise on family planning to easily fill the void left by the withdrawal of and restrictions on U.S. funding.

The Facts:
-U.S. family planning assistance funds family planning, not abortion. Existing U.S. law and policy prohibits funding for abortion overseas.
-The Gag Rule would be unconstitutional in the U.S. as it is contingent on organizations’ willingness to surrender the use of its own funds to exercise free speech.
-The Gag Rule harms women’s health by limiting funds for family planning groups, which in turn shuts down local health centers, cuts services, and increases fees.
-The GGR has adversely affected the supply of contraceptives and condoms. Shortly after the reinstatement of the Gag Rule in 2001, shipments of U.S. donated condoms and contraceptives completely ceased to 16 developing countries, primarily in Africa.

What you can do to help:
Contact your representative to stop this rule for good. Click here to lend your voice!
Learn more at Population Action International and RH Reality Check!


Technorati tags: Planned Parenthood, Global Gag Rule, reproductive rights, women's health

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