HRC condemned the Trump Administration’s massive expansion of the so-called “Global Gag Rule” (GGR), which stops any U.S. aid to foreign non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that provide abortion information, referrals or services — even when they provide those services with their own, non-U.S. funding. The Trump Administration’s shameful announcement comes at the beginning of National Women’s Health Week, a week aimed at encouraging women to prioritize their health.
“HRC has long opposed the ‘Global Gag Rule’ and any policies that seek to limit access to critical healthcare services,” said HRC Senior Vice President for Policy and Political Affairs, JoDee Winterhof. “This egregious expansion puts millions more lives at risk, including those living with HIV and AIDS. Withholding U.S. aid as a tool to limit anyone’s access to health is simply un-American and stands in direct opposition to our country’s role as a global leader for democracy and human rights.This is another reckless move by the Trump Administration designed to cynically please his extremist base without regard for consequences.”
While previous Republican presidents had applied the GGR, also known as the Mexico City Policy, only to U.S. funding for family planning services, it now affects all U.S. international health funding, whether that funding be for children’s health, HIV/AIDS, malaria, or tuberculosis. It will also apply to funding that comes from the U.S. Agency for International Development, the U.S. State Department or even the Department of Defense. Thus, an international organization that works to prevent the spread of HIV would no longer be eligible to receive U.S. funding because it also has a part of their organization that counsels women who were raped and may be seeking an abortion.
Earlier this year, HRC joined 137 other organizations in a coalition statement opposing the global gag rule. The statement illustrated the many consequences of the global gag rule: “when in place, the negative impacts of the global gag rule have been broad and severe: health services have been dismantled in a number of communities; clinics that provided a range of reproductive, maternal, and child health care, including HIV testing and counseling, were forced to close; outreach efforts to hard to reach populations were eliminated.“
The GGR was first put in place by President Ronald Reagan and has been rescinded by Democratic presidents only to be reinstated by Republican presidents. It not only blocks funding to community, science-based groups that have decades of medical experience, but it also has the effect of funneling additional funding to religious-based groups that are anti-abortion and spread a message of intolerance, homophobia and transphobia.