Global Reproductive Rights

Repeal of Global Gag Rule Included in Senate FY 2018 Foreign Relations Budget Bill

Last week, the Senate Appropriations Committee passed a 2018 foreign relations budget bill which includes an amendment that would increase funding for family planning worldwide and repeal Trump’s Global Gag Rule which prohibits any non-governmental organization that receives U.S. family planning funding from offering abortion services or referrals. The amendment received bipartisan support, with Senators Collins (R-Maine) and Murkowski (R-Alaska) voting with panel Democrats, and was added to the appropriations bill.

Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) added an amendment to amendment to the 2018 Fiscal Year State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs budget bill that would increase the funding for family planning to $622.5 million. The amendment contains language that would also effectively repeal the Mexico City Policy, commonly known as the Global Gag Rule which was reinstated by Donald Trump in January as one of his first acts as President.

The bill will proceed to vote by the full Senate and  must reconcile with the House State and Foreign Operations budget bill for the 2018 fiscal year.

In a press release, Senator Shaheen stated, “My amendment will preserve and restore funding levels for international organizations that help to prevent over fifty million unintended pregnancies around the world, and reduce the number of maternal deaths we see from those accessing unsafe abortions when the lack of family planning leaves them without options. I’m very pleased that this amendment was approved on a bipartisan basis and hope that Congress can continue to make progress to repeal this disastrous policy.”

The original Global Gag Rule, first implemented in 1984 by President Ronald Reagan,  bans any overseas NGO that receives US family planning and reproductive health funding from providing or distributing information about abortions, even using funding from non-US government sources, forcing NGOs to choose between accepting vital US funding or offering information, referrals, or services for abortion.

Trump expanded the Global Gag Rule in January to include global health programs across all agencies, meaning that Global Gag now not only applies to family planning organizations, but also NGOs that work to combat public health epidemics such as HIV/AIDS, malaria, Zika, and much more.

Media Resources: Feminist Newswire 2/22/17, 1/24/17; Politico 9/7/17; Kaiser Family Foundation 9/8/17