WASHINGTON D.C. — U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen has issued a statement condemning the Global Gag Ruleas harmful to women and families in developing countries, and calling for the policy to be abandoned.
The Global Gag Rule, known as the Mexico City Policy, is an executive order that bans federal funds for foreign non-governmental organizations that use non-U.S. funds to provide abortion services or provide information about abortion as part of comprehensive family planning services.
Shaheen is the author of the Global Her Act, which would reverse the Global Gag Rule.
A Stanford University study on the gag rule recently published by The Lancet Global Health, indicates the rule contributes to a 40 percent increase in abortions in developing countries dependent on U.S. assistance.
Shaheen, the only woman on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, issued the statement after the results of the study were published.
“This study adds to a growing body of research that proves the Global Gag Rule does tremendous harm to women and their families,” said Shaheen. “This study should compel the Trump administration to finally re-examine this disastrous policy for women and move Congress to pass the bipartisan Global HER Act to reverse this rule.
"These statistics should ring alarm bells for policy makers, especially considering that this study doesn’t account for the dramatic expansion of the Global Gag Rule under the Trump administration. I am tremendously concerned about the immense harm that this expanded policy is having today on women across the globe — we shouldn’t wait to learn of the true scope of its devastation before doing the right thing and reversing this order.”
According to Shaheen's statement, the rule forces clinics to choose between providing limited reproductive health services while accepting U.S. foreign aid or providing inclusive family planning and reproductive health care with a limited budget.
The policy was rescinded by the Obama administration, only to be reinstated and expanded under the Trump administration. Days after taking office in 2017, President Trump issued an executive order that significantly expanded the policy from previous administrations by applying the ban to every program that falls under global health assistance at the Department of State, USAID and the Department of Health and Human Services.
The Stanford study looked at Sub-Saharan countries from 1995-2014. The study does not analyze the latest iteration of the Global Gag Rule put in place by the Trump administration. While previous versions of the rule under past Republican administrations impacted approximately $600 million in foreign assistance, the Trump administration’s policy now impacts $9 billion in aid. Countries in sub-Saharan Africa, as recipients of a large amount of U.S. global health assistance, is particularly vulnerable to the negative effects of President Trump’s expanded gag rule.
The Global Her Act would:
• Ensure that eligible foreign NGOs can continue to operate U.S.-supported health programs abroad, particularly those that provide legal health services to women — including counseling, referral and legal abortion services — with their own, non-U.S. funds.
• Guarantee that foreign NGOs will not be forced to sacrifice their right to free speech in order to participate in U.S.-supported programs abroad.
• Help expand access to health programs for women around the world to improve health and development outcomes for entire families, communities and developing countries.