Washington, DC, January 28, 2021—Pathfinder International applauds the Biden-Harris administration’s repeal of the global gag rule, a policy that has damaged the health, rights, and lives of women and girls around the world. Repealing the policy as part of a broad set of actions to improve global health recognizes sexual and reproductive health and rights as they should be—as a health issue, not a political one.
“This executive order exhibits the Biden-Harris administration’s commitment to protecting and expanding access to comprehensive reproductive health care, including safe abortion care, and upholding sexual and reproductive health rights,” said Lois Quam, President and CEO of Pathfinder International. “We look forward to working with the new administration to restore partnerships and advance programs around the world that empower women and girls and protect the health and well-being of vulnerable communities.”
While US funds are never used to perform abortions, the global gag rule puts harsh restrictions on foreign NGOs—including some of Pathfinder’s local partners. The full impact of the policy is still being studied, but in certain countries it has been shown to not only reduce access to safe abortion care, but also other critical health care, including contraception, HIV , and nutrition services.
Safe and legal abortion care is crucial for saving women’s lives and should be provided as part of comprehensive reproductive health care. Evidence shows that restricting access to abortions does not curb the number of abortions taking place—in fact, it does just the opposite. Over the past 30 years, the percentage of unintended pregnancies ending in abortion has increased in countries where abortion is restricted, and there are significantly more unsafe abortions in countries with the most stringent restrictions.
To ensure the global gag rule is not reinstated under future administrations, Pathfinder International calls for its full and final repeal through passage of the Global Health, Empowerment, and Rights (HER) Act. We will continue working with our partners to advance policies and programs that protect sexual and reproductive health and rights and save lives.
About Pathfinder International
Pathfinder International is a sexual and reproductive health and rights organization. Since 1957, we have empowered women to make informed choices about whether and when to have children. We collaborate closely with our partners around the world to address the unmet need for modern contraception, offer life-saving maternal and newborn care, and reach the most vulnerable populations, including those who have been affected by conflict, climate change, and natural disasters. Taken together, our programs empower millions of women, men, and young people to choose their own paths forward.