The “global gag rule,” also known as the Mexico City Policy, is a harmful US foreign policy that forces health providers to choose between receiving US global health funds and providing comprehensive sexual and reproductive health care—at the risk of women’s health and lives.
History of the Gag Rule
President Ronald Reagan first imposed the global gag rule in 1984. It was then rescinded by President Bill Clinton in 1993, reestablished by President George W. Bush in 2001, and rescinded again by President Barack Obama in 2009.
When it was first imposed, it applied only to US family planning funds. Providers had to agree to not provide legal abortion services, information, or even referrals for abortion services with their own money in order to receive US family planning funds. If they did not meet this condition, they would lose all US funding, including essential supplies of contraceptives.
President Trump Reinstates & Expands Global Gag Rule
On January 23, 2017, President Trump imposed a vastly expanded global gag rule. It will reverse decades of progress on reproductive, maternal, and child health by increasing unintended pregnancies, unsafe abortions, and maternal and newborn deaths.
The expansion of the gag rule means the harmful policy now applies to all “global health assistance furnished by all US government departments or agencies.” In addition to family planning assistance that was targeted by the previous iterations of the gag rule, now every effort that falls under global health assistance will be impacted.
Impact of the Expanded Global Gag Rule
The global gag rule punishes women in already-challenging circumstances by putting life-saving services out of reach. It causes cuts in services, increases in fees, and closures of clinics. In many instances, these are the only providers in remote and economically-disadvantaged communities.
By expanding the application of the global gag rule to all global health assistance provided across the entire US government, the gag rule will apply to health funding provided by USAID, the Department of State, and the Department of Health and Human Services (principally the Centers for Disease Control).
That means that many local implementing partners will not be able to provide HIV prevention, care and treatment services; integrated maternal health care; and contraceptive services among others if they intend to receive US government funds.
“Abortion is legal in many countries where we work,” says Caroline Crosbie, our acting CEO. “Imposing the global gag rule will force many organizations and clinicians to disregard their local laws and deny women rights that are legally theirs. Stopping organizations from speaking freely about abortion in their own countries is counter to the American commitment to free speech and promoting democracy.”
President Trump’s expanded global gag rule sets the clock back on sexual and reproductive health and rights. Speak out against it now.