A Brief Reprieve
As President Bush’s tenure came to an end, so did the Global Gag Rule. The election of Democratic President Barack Obama brought a swift end to the Global Gag Rule, which he rescinded his first week in office. However, much as it had been under the Clinton administration, Congressional anti-choice Republicans were unwilling to accept the policy’s removal. Once they regained control of the House in early 2011, they renewed their efforts to legislatively reimpose the Global Gag Rule. Fortunately, Democrats in the Senate, often with the help of a few key Republican allies, ensured that these efforts were met with strong opposition making them ultimately unsuccessful.
Back and Worse than Ever Before
On January 23, 2017, just days after taking office, President Trump issued a presidential memorandum imposing a massively expanded Global Gag Rule, bringing an eight year reprieve from this harmful policy under the Obama administration to an end.
Trump’s Global Gag Rule goes further than previous iterations of the policy, cruelly extending its restrictions to all global health assistance provided through USAID, the Department of State and the Department of Health and Human Services in more than 60 low and middle income countries. Now, in addition to all foreign NGOs providing family planning and reproductive health care, those providing services related to HIV/AIDS, maternal and newborn health, malaria, tuberculosis, other infectious diseases, nutrition or any other global health program will be required to certify that they do not provide abortion services, counsel or refer for abortion, or advocate for the liberalization of abortion laws, in order to continue to receive U.S assistance.
Championing Women's Rights
This policy is not about abortion. It is about the Trump-Pence administration placing politics above the health and lives of women around the world. As in the past, the Global Gag Rule will not prevent abortions. What it will do is shutter clinics, limiting access to contraception, HIV testing counseling and treatment, safe delivery and newborn care, and other critical health services.
In response to President Trump’s announcement, family planning champions in Congress stood up to oppose this policy by introducing the Global Health, Empower and Rights (HER) Act. This bill, if passed, would permanently repeal the Global Gag Rule once and for all.