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Sen. Shaheen Leads Bipartisan Letter to the State Department, Seeking to Measure the Harm of Trump's "Global Gag Rule"

In a letter sent to Sec. of State Rex Tillerson earlier this month, four senators from both parties expressed their "grave concerns about the impact" of the global gag rule, which bans humanitarian organizations around the world from receiving U.S. funds if they provide women with or even just refer women to abortion services.

The rule has been implemented under every Republican administration since Ronald Reagan was in office and overturned under every subsequent Democratic president. But when he took office, President Trump took it one step further, expanding it to apply not only to organizations that receive family planning funds, but to all organizations that receive any global health money, putting maternal health initiatives, anti-Zika efforts, and HIV/AIDS work at risk. According to STAT news, that decision could imperil a total of $8.8 billion in global health funds, including the $6 billion that goes to the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief.

Now, Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Patty Murray (D-WA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) have written to the State Department, urging officials examine the impact of the rule. "We ask that you commit to comprehensive public review of the GGR policy, and in these reviews, include assessments of any harm caused by this policy to women and girls in countries that receive U.S. global health assistance," the bipartisan coalition of senators write.

And because the rule has yet to be fully executed worldwide, the senators followup with specific requests: at least one more public review, after the global gag rule has been fully implemented to "evaluate long-term consequences and ensure course corrections to mitigate harm where possible," a report on the impact that the rule has had thus far, since it took effect, and a report once the "full implementation of the GGR is complete and subsequent review is released."

“The Trump administration’s relentless attacks on women’s reproductive health are having very real consequences, both here and abroad,” said Sen. Shaheen, who championed the bipartisan-backed Global HER Act, which would permanently repeal the global gag rule, in an emailed statement to “The global gag rule is a senseless, dangerous policy that prevents women and their families from accessing necessary, and often lifesaving, healthcare services. It also severely undermines our foreign policy commitment to invest in women’s global health. I wrote this bipartisan letter to ensure the Secretary of State fully discloses the harmful implications of the global gag rule.”