Advocates welcome legislation to block Global Gag Rule

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Ipas welcomed the announcement today that U.S. Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY) has introduced the 2015 Global Democracy Promotion Act. This act is intended to permanently block the Global Gag Rule, a policy that denies U.S. international family planning assistance to foreign non-governmental organizations that provide any abortion services to women in developing countries.

“We are glad to have allies like Congresswoman Lowey who recognize that family planning and safe abortion are essential health services for women,” said Jamila Taylor, senior policy advisor for Ipas. “U.S. policy should never infringe upon the rights of  women seeking access to vital reproductive health services.”

More than 20 million women every year – almost all in developing countries – will have an unsafe abortion because they lack access to safe abortion care. Approximately five million are hospitalized as a result. Despite these harrowing figures, the United States continues to maintain the Helms Amendment, which restricts the use of U.S. funds for abortion “as a method of family planning.” When in place, the Global Gag Rule went even further, denying U.S. funds to family planning organizations that provided abortion services, counseling about abortion or participated in efforts to liberalize abortion laws.

In her statement about the legislation, Rep. Lowey said: “Women around the world deserve the ability to make healthy choices for themselves and their families.  It’s time to permanently put in place responsible policy that makes it easier – not harder – for women to receive full and consistent access to family planning and reproductive health services.”

The Global Gag Rule was first imposed by President Ronald Reagan in 1984. It was repealed by President Bill Clinton in 1993, re-imposed by President George W. Bush in 2001 and repealed again by President Barack Obama in 2009.