Back in January, one of the first actions that Donald Trump took as president was to reinstate the global gag rule, a harmful policy that hijacks U.S. global health assistance in the name of anti-choice politics. He expanded it to include not just family planning assistance but all U.S. global health funding—an unprecedented move that swept up many other critical programs in addition to family planning, including those that address HIV/AIDS, maternal and child health, and Zika response.
Now President Trump and U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson are exploiting National Women’s Health Week to launch this expanded attack on women’s equality. Their strikingly misnamed “Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance” implementation plan puts women worldwide at risk, and puts international healthcare workers in a difficult political position when it comes to even discussing abortion.
People For the American Way is part of a coalition of nearly 160 organizations opposed to the global gag rule.
The U.S. has been 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 global health and development, women’s rights, gender equality, and free speech oppose the harmful global gag rule and reject efforts to undermine the health and rights of women around the world.
Countries around the world are making significant progress in improving women’s health and the global gag rule undermines 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. The global gag rule seriously hinders 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.