The impact of U.S. policy — at home and abroad

The Global Gag Rule is a U.S. policy that restricts foreign nongovernmental organizations that receive U.S. global health funds from engaging in abortion-related work—even using their own funds. They are “gagged” from providing not only abortion services, but abortion counseling, referrals, medical advice, training, and lobbying for the liberalization of abortion laws.  This policy has been expanded under President Trump, and directs U.S. government agencies to apply an unprecedented global anti-abortion policy that will require foreign NGOs to choose between U.S. funding and providing comprehensive sexual and reproductive health care. The result will be an increase in unintended pregnancies, unsafe abortions, maternal deaths and newborn deaths.

The Helms Amendment to the U.S. Foreign Assistance Act prohibits the use of U.S. funds for the performance of abortion as a method of family planning or to motivate or coerce any person to practice abortions. Even in countries where abortion is legal, providing information and counseling on abortion is restricted in U.S.-funded facilities. Organizations and health-care agencies receiving U.S. funding are forced to stand by as women have unsafe abortions and die—even though the technologies to prevent those deaths are known and affordable.

The Hyde Amendment, approved by Congress in 1976, is the U.S. domestic counterpart to the Helms Amendment. It prohibits Medicaid, the U.S. government health program that serves low-income women and families, from covering abortion services. Exceptions are permitted in the cases of rape, incest and danger to the life of the woman. Subsequent domestic abortion-related restrictions have also denied coverage for federal employees, military veterans, Peace Corps Volunteers, and incarcerated women.

Illustration of Donald Trump overseeing health providers with gags on their mouths.

Learn more about the Global Gag Rule and its impact on women’s health

Trump’s global gag rule. An attack on women everywhere (an in-depth look at the policy from PAI)

Gag rule and women in Africa (video)

The Trump gag rule hits India

Global gag rule expansion plan will be disastrous for women

What are the ‘foreseeable harms’ of the Trump global gag rule? A new commentary looks at the evidence.

What You Need to Know About Abortion Restrictions on U.S. Global Health Assistance