Trump Administration Expands Global Gag Rule

U.S. State Department’s Plan Magnifies the Harmful Impact of the Global Gag Rule on Women and Girls

(PRESS RELEASE) The Trump Administration released guidance on a policy that restricts access to safe abortion services and information for women worldwide. 

On Monday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson approved a plan called “Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance,” which expands the Global Gag Rule restrictions to virtually all global health assistance provided by the federal government, including from the Department of State, USAID, and the Department of Defense—restricting $8.8 billion dollars in financial support for global health programs. The expanded Trump Global Gag Rule affects a pool of funding nearly 15 times as large as the George W. Bush-era Global Gag Rule. 

Trump’s Global Gag Rule dictates that U.S.-supported non-governmental groups abroad may no longer use their own money to provide safe and legal abortion services, or even offer information or referrals for safe abortion, except in very limited circumstances, jeopardizing women’s health and lives. The policy applies even where women need access to safe abortion services to preserve their health and well-being; the only narrow exceptions to the rule are for women who have been raped, who are survivors of incest, or who face a life-threatening pregnancy.

Said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights: 

“President Trump’s expansion of the Global Gag Rule is a major assault on those who serve the world’s poorest and most vulnerable women.

“This policy does not protect life.  It jeopardizes the lives of countless women by withholding critical information and access to the full range of reproductive health care.

“The champions for women’s health in Congress must work to pass the Global Health, Empowerment, and Rights Act to get rid of this harmful and vindictive policy.  We stand with international civil society groups around the world to push back on this latest attack on women’s health care access.”  

Days after Trump reinstated the Global Gag Rule, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY) introduced the “Global Health, Empowerment, and Rights (HER) Act,” which would put an end to the harmful Trump Global Gag Rule. The bipartisan Senate bill has 46 cosponsors, and the House bill has 144 cosponsors.

The Center, along with more than 150 civil-society organizations, issued a statement against Trump’s Global Gag Rule.

Previous iterations of Trump’s Global Gag Rule have been associated with an increase in abortion rates as organizations that provide access to family planning services lose funding, a 2011 study conducted by Stanford University researchers and published in the Bulletin of the World Health Organization concluded. Another 2011 study of women in Ghana found that the abortion rate was higher in rural areas when the Global Gag Rule was in effect. A 2003 report by the Center for Reproductive Rights concluded that the Global Gag Rule also “helps perpetuate unsafe abortion” in countries with restrictive abortion laws and limited access to safe abortion services.

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