A Permanent Repeal of the Global Gag Rule is Long Overdue

For immediate release
July 18, 2013

A Permanent Repeal of the Global Gag Rule is Long Overdue
Statement by PAI Director of U.S. Government Relations Craig Lasher

Washington, DC: Today, Rep. Nita Lowey and 114 cosponsors introduced the Global Democracy Promotion Act, a bill to permanently repeal the Global Gag Rule.

The Gag Rule is a harmful policy that reduces the access of women in developing countries to family planning services by banning U.S. government funding to organizations overseas that use their own money to provide abortion services, counsel or refer for abortion, or advocate for changes in abortion laws. The Gag Rule has no impact on U.S. funding for abortions, as the Helms Amendment already restricts funding for abortions overseas.

Even though President Obama rescinded the Gag Rule more than four years ago, we fight legislative efforts each year from politicians who want to reimpose this extreme measure. Tomorrow, a House subcommittee will consider a draft appropriations bill that would reinstate the Gag Rule legislatively. If they succeed, the results would be devastating for women around the world.

The Gag Rule limits women’s ability to make informed decisions about their health care and prevents organizations that receive U.S. assistance from offering women the full range of reproductive health services that are legally available in their country. Organizations that refuse to comply with the Gag Rule lose access to U.S. family planning assistance, which provides funding, contraceptive supplies, and technical assistance. That means reduced availability of condoms and contraceptives, clinic closures, and service cutbacks in countries with already-high demands for family planning. It means more women being turned away from the critical health services that they want and need.

In the past few weeks, we have seen anti-choice politicians from North Carolina to Texas try to insert themselves in women’s reproductive health decisions through intrusive restrictions. The Gag Rule is just another page in this political playbook, and it must stop. Politicians should not interfere in a woman’s personal medical decision about her pregnancy, in this country or anywhere in the world.