The US Second Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday rejected a lawsuit filed last year by the Center for Reproductive Law and Policy against President George Bush, charging that his “global gag rule” (GGR) impinges on the organization’s free speech and amounts to government-sanctioned censorship.
Brought in response to Bush’s first official act as president, the lawsuit argued that, by refusing to fund foreign non-government organizations (FNGOs) using any monies – even their own – for abortion counseling or services, the US government limits organizations such as CRLP from distributing factual information and lobbying for women’s reproductive health reform. The court disagreed, insisting that an FNGO exercised “independent choice” to accept or reject US Agency for International Development (USAID) funding. The global gag rule applies not only to independent family planning groups but to government-run programs as well – programs that often cannot continue at all without US funding.
The global gag rule has already had a hugely damaging effect, particularly in the developing world. Nearly 80,000 women die each year due to botched abortions, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). In Peru, Colombia, and Nepal, unsafe abortions account for the majority of pregnancy-related deaths.