US Administration Expands Global Gag Rule

Millions of Women Worldwide Will Be Shut Off from Comprehensive Sexual and Reproductive Health Information and Services

The Trump Administration just expanded the global gag rule which prohibits any organization from receiving funding from the U.S. government if they provide services, referrals, and advocacy related to abortion – even with non-U.S. government financing. This expansion now includes all their sub-grantees as well.  

The U.S. is the world’s largest health donor. Many health services such as HIV prevention and treatment, contraception, and family care integrate comprehensive abortion-related services in the programming. Therefore, the global gag rule affects the most vulnerable people seeking all sorts of health related care and leaves them without access to the life-saving information and services they need.  Up to 26 million women and families worldwide will be shut off from contraceptive services due to the global gag rule.  

“This gag rule is prescribing chaos in our countries,” saidEdinahMasiyiwa, the executive director of the Women’s Action Group in Zimbabwe, a Global Fund for Women grantee partner.   

“This is much bigger than abortion,” said Musimbi Kanyoro, President and CEO of Global Fund for Women. “The global gag rule affects family planning, maternal health, HIV prevention and services, sex education for young people—it affects the whole of women’s health care around the world. Expanding this policy directly targets the world’s women and girls, and rolls back reproductive health and rights globally.” 

The expanded global gag rule means that more of the world’s women will be forced to seek unsafe abortions—with potentially devastating impacts on the health of women and girls. WHO research shows that Sub-Saharan Africa had higher abortion rates after George W. Bush reinstated the global gag rule, citing reduced access to contraception causing more unwanted pregnancies.  

Half of the 1.65 billion women age 15-44 worldwide live in countries where the global gag rule would impede otherwise legal abortion services, according to the Guttmacher Institute. 

Abortions, you cannot stop them, once a woman decides she doesn’t want a pregnancy,” said Edinah Masiyiwa of Women’s Action Group. “So the gag rule is really not helping in any way.  

Beyond the work Global Fund for Women supports in Zimbabwe with Women’s Action Group, we are also helping grantee partners in places like in Argentina that are working to pass laws that expand the right to safe and legal abortion. And in Mexico our grantee partners are using innovative strategies like medical abortion home kits to help women access abortion safely and without stigma.   

With the expanded global gag rule, it is more important than ever to get money to grassroots, women-led groups around the world who are filling gaps in women’s health care, educating women and girls on their reproductive rights, and advocating for safe and legal abortion. This is a critical moment to get money and support to women’s movements working hard to resist rollbacks around the world. 

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