Shaheen Leads Bipartisan, Bicameral Push to Permanently Repeal the Global Gag Rule
**Representatives Lee, Schakowsky & Bera Lead Effort in the House of Representatives**
**Study shows the Global Gag Rule impacts a wide range of programs and has vast negative consequences for critical health services**
(Washington, DC) — Yesterday, U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), the only woman on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Representatives Barbara Lee (CA-13), Jan Schakowsky (IL-09) and Ami Bera, M.D. (CA-07), led a bipartisan, bicameral reintroduction of the Global Health, Empowerment, and Rights (HER) Act in both the Senate and House of Representatives. The legislation would permanently repeal the harmful Global Gag Rule. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) joined Shaheen to lead the introduction of the legislation in the Senate, which has 46 total cosponsors. The House companion legislation has 173 cosponsors.
The Global Gag Rule, also known as the Mexico City Policy, is an executive order that bans federal funds for foreign non-governmental organizations that use non-U.S. funds to provide abortion services or provide information about abortion as part of comprehensive family planning services. This forces clinics to choose between providing limited reproductive health services while accepting U.S. foreign aid or providing inclusive family planning and reproductive health care with a limited budget. The ill-conceived policy was rescinded by the Obama administration, only to be reinstated and expanded under the Trump administration. President Trump expanded the policy numerous times during his term in office to unprecedented levels, all of which Senator Shaheen vehemently opposed. Yesterday, President Biden rescinded the policy.
“The Global Gag Rule compromised women’s health and well-being in some of our most vulnerable communities around the world. The impact of the last administration’s actions to implement and significantly expand this policy will take years to repair,” said Senator Shaheen. “I’m very pleased by President Biden’s decision to rescind this policy and I’m eager to work with his administration to build on that effort in Congress, starting with legislation I’ve introduced – the Global HER Act. The Global HER Act is a bipartisan bill to permanently repeal the Global Gag Rule, ensuring that women’s access to important health services are not dependent on the person in the White House. And a permanent repeal is needed now more than ever. The Trump administration’s unprecedented and exponential expansion of the Global Gag Rule cannot be repeated. Frontline organizations need certainty on funding and services so they can best serve their patients. The life and health of a mother on the other side of the world shouldn’t be at the whim of a President’s partisan politics. It’s time to end the Global Gag Rule.”
“The Global Gag rule leaves behind a chilling effect every time the United States changes administrations, undercutting the longstanding goals of the policy,” said Congresswoman Lee. “This harmful policy interferes with doctor-patient relationships by restricting crucial information and health services for vulnerable communities around the world. We can no longer undermine the sustainability of global health programs and our pace of progress, so I’m proud to be co-leading this effort with my colleagues. I’m looking forward to advancing the Global HER Act in the House and Senate with an administration that understands the importance of this issue."
“I want to applaud President Biden for taking the important step of issuing an Executive Order to repeal the Global Gag rule, saving lives and protecting the health of women around the world,” said Congresswoman Schakowsky. “Access to comprehensive reproductive health services and information will not only reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies, but also prevent injuries and death that result from unsafe abortions. Once again, the United States, the single largest funder of global health, is stepping up to prevent negative maternal health outcomes. I am proud to co-lead the Global HER Act to permanently repeal this harmful policy and ensure that future Administrations don’t bring it back.”
“I’m grateful President Biden rescinded the Global Gag Rule, which jeopardizes life-saving global health programs and makes it even harder for women and families in vulnerable populations to access critical reproductive health care. This policy also hinders our ability to fight against epidemics like HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria. The Trump Administration shamefully expanded this policy, leading to disastrous results for women and families across the world at a time when the global community was already reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Congressman Bera. “Congress must act to ensure no future Administration can implement this harmful policy. I’m proud to join my colleagues in the House and Senate in reintroducing the Global HER Act to permanently end the Global Gag Rule and its attack on reproductive rights.”
“The Global HER Act would allow U.S. global health assistance funding for foreign non-governmental organizations, using their own funds, to provide the full scope of family planning services to women in developing countries,” said Senator Collins. “The global gag rule forces health care organizations to make a Hobson’s choice: either give up desperately needed funds for family planning and a broad array of other important health care services, or renege on their responsibility to provide patients with full and accurate medical information. I will continue to work with my colleagues to ensure that U.S. investments in global health are effective and are administered efficiently.”
“In 2017, President Trump issued a presidential memorandum that restored the Mexico City policy, also known as the global gag rule. The expansion of this policy that occurred over the last four years had a detrimental impact on clinical providers, community health workers and public health partners around the world providing women and girls with essential services,” said Senator Murkowski. “I’m proud to help reintroduce bipartisan, bicameral legislation which would permanently repeal that rule. By doing so, we remove eligibility restrictions that could unintentionally create barriers to critical, often life-saving services and help ensure women around the world have access to more comprehensive, quality healthcare.”
The Global HER Act would:
- Ensure that eligible foreign NGOs can continue to operate U.S.-supported health programs abroad, particularly those that provide legal health services to women -- including counseling, referral, and legal abortion services -- with their own, non-U.S. funds;
- Guarantee that foreign NGOs will not be forced to sacrifice their right to free speech in order to participate in U.S.-supported programs abroad; and
- Help expand access to health programs for women around the world to improve health and development outcomes for entire families, communities and developing countries.
A member of both the Senate Foreign Relations and Armed Services Committees, Senator Shaheen has been a fierce advocate for women and girls around the globe, including advocating on behalf of family planning and women’s global health, spearheading efforts to end gender-based violence, authoring legislation to address barriers that girls around the world face in accessing education and securing women leadership roles in conflict resolution and peace negotiations.
The Global HER Act is cosponsored by Senators Collins (R-ME), Murkowski (R-AK), Menendez (D-NJ), Baldwin (D-WI), Bennet (D-CO), Blumenthal (D-CT), Booker (D-NJ), Brown (D-OH), Cantwell (D-WA), Cardin (D-MD), Carper (D-DE), Casey (D-PA), Coons (D-DE), Cortez Masto (D-NV), Duckworth (D-IL), Durbin (D-IL), Feinstein (D-CA), Gillibrand (D-NY), Hassan (D-NH), Hirono (D-HI), Kaine (D-VA), Kelly (D-AZ), King (I-ME), Klobuchar (D-MN), Leahy (D-VT), Markey (D-MA), Merkley (D-OR), Murphy (D-CT), Murray (D-WA), Ossof (D-GA), Peters (D-MI), Reed (D-RI), Rosen (D-NV), Sanders (I-VT), Schatz (D-HI), Schumer (D-NY), Sinema (D-AZ), Smith (D-MN), Stabenow (D-MI), Tester (D-MT), Van Hollen (D-MD), Warner (D-VA), Warnock (D-GA), Warren (D-MA), Whitehouse (D-RI) and Wyden (D-OR).
The Global HER Act is endorsed by 132 organizations representing global health, women’s reproductive rights, women’s equality, civil rights and other relevant advocacy constituencies. The full list is available here.
Text of the Global HER Act can be read here.