Yesterday, members of Congress, led by Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY), announced their plan to introduce the Global Health Empowerment and Rights (HER) Act soon. The bill reverses and permanently bans the anti-abortion Global Gag Rule reinstated under the Trump administration, and protects access to healthcare, especially for women and girls, across the globe.
Eleanor Smeal, the President of the Feminist Majority, stated that, “We are calling on Congress to stop this blatant disregard for women’s lives and pass the Global Health, Empowerment, and Rights (HER) Act, which would permanently revoke the Global Gag Rule.”
The Mexico City policy, commonly known as the Global Gag Rule, is a government rule that prohibits the federal funding of non-governmental organizations (NGO) that advocate for decriminalization of abortion, or provide abortion counselling and referrals, even if these activities are done with non-U.S. funds. In 2017, President Trump issued a presidential memorandum reinstating and expanding the Global Gag Rule. Unlike previous iterations of the Global Gag Rule, the most recent one was under President George W. Bush, Trump’s Global Gag Rule applies to all U.S. global health accounts, not just family planning programs. This expanded rule will impact upwards of $9.5 billion in U.S. global health assistance, and impacts programs providing a range of services, including HIV/AIDS programs and initiatives to combat Zika, malaria, and more. Marie Stopes estimates that the Trump Global Gag will lead to the deaths of more than 21,000 women over the next three years.
Since the Trump administration re-initiated the Global Gag, and created a larger threat, women’s rights activists have spoken out their disapproval.
“As one of his very first acts in office, President Trump, with a stroke of his pen, issued a presidential memorandum that will cost tens of thousands of women their lives around the world,” said Eleanor Smeal. “Trump’s Global Gag Rule goes far beyond the deadly Global Gag Rules of Reagan and both Bush I and II,” Smeal continued. “His expanded Global Gag Rule cheats women from receiving accurate and comprehensive medical information, not only at family planning clinics, but also at all clinics receiving U.S. global health funding, including those combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and/or Zika, among many other public health epidemics. Trump is shamelessly trading the lives of the poorest women of the Global South for political points at home.”
Media Resources: Guttmacher Institute 2/7/19; Feminist News 9/15/17; Feminist News 3/8/17