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Center for Reproductive Rights Statement on Senate’s Vote to Repeal the Global Gag Rule

The Center for Reproductive Rights calls on President Bush to sign the bill repealing the Global Gag Rule. The President has repeatedly stated his commitment to cultivating democracy abroad and should therefore, take this opportunity to take action that reflects that promise, and repeal the policy.

The Global Gag Rule, also known as the Mexico City Policy, prohibits any non-governmental organization (NGO) overseas that receives U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) family planning funds from using their own money to provide abortion services; to advocate for changes in abortion laws; or even to provide full and accurate medical information about legal abortion services to their patients.

Not only has the policy had harmful and widespread effects on women throughout the world by shutting down health facilities and limiting the full range of reproductive health services, it has stifled debate and the ability of foreign NGOs to lobby their governments-in effect, undermining their right to exercise freedom of speech.

The gag rule would be unconstitutional if it were applied to NGOs here in the U.S. and therefore, creates a double standard. As then-appellate court judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg articulated in a 1989 case challenging the gag rule:

If our land is one "of freedom, of equal opportunity, of religious tolerance, and of good will for other peoples who share our aspirations," it is in no small measure because our Constitution restrains all officialdom from infringing on fundamental human rights; just as our flag "carries its message ... both at home and abroad," so does our Constitution and the values it expresses.