A joint statement signed by over 200 international civil society organizations from 88 countries across six continents was released on 22 June 2021, organized by Planned Parenthood Global and the International Planned Parenthood Federation. Released as part of a week of action, it calls for a permanent end to the US Global Gag Rule. The statement, in Arabic, English, French and Spanish, demonstrates the diversity of just some of the communities harmed by the policy over the past 37 years.
According to research released by Planned Parenthood in September 2020, 70% of Americans favored ending the Global Gag Rule so that funding for global health could resume without restrictions.
Dawn Laguens, interim executive director of Planned Parenthood Global said: “Study after study has demonstrated that the neocolonialist Global Gag Rule devastates health care access for people around the world, especially those who already face systemic barriers to care. And yet, since 1984, the Global Gag Rule has come and gone with each party shift in the White House. President Biden took an important step by ending this harmful rule for now, but real relief will not be felt until we can permanently end this devastating policy.”
Alvaro Bermejo, director general of the International Planned Parenthood Federation said: “Since its inception, the Global Gag Rule has been a constant threat to the lives of women and girls and their right to decide what happens to their bodies. Designed to deny people safe and legal abortion care, it has also caused unfathomable damage across the health care spectrum — from HIV prevention and treatment to maternal health care.”
The Global Gag Rule prohibits non-governmental organizations in other countries from receiving any US global health assistance if they provide, refer, counsel or advocate for legal abortion in their country – even if these activities are supported solely with non-US funds. This cruel policy was originally imposed by the Reagan administration, before being rescinded in 1993 by President Clinton, and then reinstated in 2001 by President Bush on his first business day in office. President Obama rescinded the Global Gag Rule in January 2009, but less than a decade later, President Trump re-imposed and radically expanded the policy, extending its harm and devastation to even more women and communities. President Biden then rescinded it in a presidential memorandum signed on January 28, 2021.
The statement concludes: “The prospect of reinstatement under future administrations casts a long shadow and leaves the health and lives of millions of people vulnerable to the whims of future US presidents…. Permanent repeal of the policy is urgently needed to promote sustainable progress in global health and to build and maintain long-term partnerships between the US government, local organizations, and the communities that they serve… Urgent action is needed to finally end the Global Gag Rule once and for all and advance health, human rights, and gender equality across the globe.”
THE FULL JOINT STATEMENT CAN BE FOUND HERE.
PHOTO by Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images in Chicago Sun Times, Gag rule protest, Washington DC, March 2019