Yesterday the U.S. Department of State released a report to assess the impact of the Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance policy—also known as the global gag rule. This six-month review of the global gag rule was from May through September 2017, which was not a meaningful period to adequately assess impact.
We know U.S. government assistance has saved millions of lives. Unfortunately, the global gag rule is a harmful policy that hinders that progress and is negatively impacting the health of communities worldwide. Pathfinder International has long been a leader in opposing harmful policies like this one. We know from experience that the global gag rule denies women access to critical health services.
Under the current Administration, the expanded version of the global gag rule excludes some of the most effective health organizations and advocates for marginalized people in 60 low and middle- income countries. These organizations are often the only health care providers serving a given community. Most of the impact expected under the global gag rule will not be evident until several months or years into the policy. As such, this review is an incomplete and insufficient analysis. An ongoing analysis is necessary to continue to monitor the impact of this policy worldwide. We recommend an annual review across all global health programs that includes staff from impacted agencies, implementing organizations, donor and host country governments, community leaders, and civil society in the U.S. and in aid recipient countries.