Today Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA) will introduce legislation to the House Foreign Relations Committee that could reverse President Bush’s re-instatement of the Mexico City Policy, or “Global Gag Rule,” that prohibits recipients of U.S. international family planning assistance from counseling women on abortion or engaging in political speech on abortion. The legislation has two primary provisions: Foreign non-governmental organizations (NGOs) cannot be denied funding based on the medical services they provide, including counseling and referral services. Foreign NGOs, as a condition of eligibility for U.S. development assistance need not sacrifice their right to use their own funds to engage in free speech and assembly activities any more than U.S. based groups are asked to do.
U.S. international family planning assistance is crucial to lives of millions of women. Denying women the information they need about family planning and abortion forces them to seek unsafe illegal abortions. Re-instating the “Global Gag Rule” was President Bush’s first executive order and “demonstrates that he will use his presidential powers to undermine the reproductive rights of the worlds’ women,” said Lee.