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APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE APPROVES BIPARTISAN SHAHEEN AMENDMENT PROTECTING WOMEN’S HEALTH CARE

Amendment to State and Foreign Operations (SFOPS) appropriations bill would permanently repeal the Global Gag Rule

June 19, 2014

(Washington, DC) – The Senate Appropriations Committee today cleared U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen’s (D-NH) bipartisan amendment permanently repealing the Global Gag Rule – also referred to as the “Mexico City Policy” – in the State and Foreign Operations (SFOPS) appropriations bill. The Global Gag Rule prohibits organizations funded by the United States from providing abortions or family planning services to women across the world, even if these activities are supported solely with non-US funds. The amendment cleared the committee by a vote of 19-11.

“The Global Gag Rule significantly limits access to family planning services for women overseas and is not only dangerous – it is ineffective,” Senator Shaheen said. “Studies show that the number of women undergoing abortions in Africa more than doubled from 2001 to 2008 while the Global Gag Rule was in place, and permanently eliminating the ban will decrease the number of abortions by increasing access to family planning services.”

“Politicians should not come between a woman and her doctor, no matter where she lives,” said Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “The Shaheen amendment could mean ending the global gag rule once and for all, 30 years after its inception. Imagine that: no more service interruptions, health center closures, or playing political football with women’s health and lives.”

Shaheen’s amendment would permanently repeal the Global Gag Rule, ending the restriction on foreign organizations from engaging in activities that are legal in their own countries and in the United States. The rule was first put into effect in 1984, and has been repealed or enforced by every president since then. Shaheen’s amendment is necessary to make sure that future Administrations cannot reinstate the policy, providing certainty to the organizations that are providing important family planning services overseas. The amendment was co-sponored by Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Tom Harkin (D-IA), Susan Collins (R-ME), Patty Murray (D-WA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Jon Tester (D-MT), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Mark Begich (D-AK), Christopher Coons (D-DE), Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Dick Durbin (D-IL).

Shaheen’s effort to repeal the Global Gag Rule is supported by a number of organizations. Those organizations include:

Advocates for Youth

American Association of University Women (AAUW)

American Civil Liberties Union

American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists

Catholics for Choice

Center for Health & Gender Equity (CHANGE)

Center for Reproductive Rights

Center for Women Policy Studies

Communications Consortium Media Center

EngenderHealth

Family Care International

Feminist Majority Foundation

Hadassah, The Women’s Zionist Organization of America, Inc.

Human Rights Watch

International Center for Research on Women

International Women’s Health Coalition

Ipas

John Snow, Inc.

Management Sciences for Health

Metropolitan Community Churches

MSI-US

NARAL Pro-Choice America

National Council of Jewish Women

National Partnership for Women & Families

National Organization for Women

Pathfinder International

Planned Parenthood Federation of America

Population Action International

Population Connection Action Fund

Population Council

Population Institute

Population Services International (PSI)

Public Health Institute

Religious Institute

Sierra Club

The United Methodist Church, General Board of Church & Society

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