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Shaheen, Murkowski Lead Bipartisan Push to Permanently Repeal the Global Gag Rule

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) reintroduced the Global Health, Empowerment and Rights (HER) Act today. The Senators’ bipartisan legislation is cosponsored by 49 U.S. Senators and would permanently repeal the harmful Global Gag Rule. U.S. Representatives Barbara Lee (CA-13) Jan Schakowsky (IL-09) and Ami Bera (CA-07) lead House companion legislation.

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 policy means organizations that receive U.S. international aid for other reasons, such as HIV prevention, maternal health, or fighting diseases like malaria, cannot educate their communities on safe abortion or their funding will be pulled.

The ill-conceived policy is implemented under Republican administrations and was rescinded by the Obama administration, only to be reinstated and expanded under the Trump administration.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. President Biden rescinded the policy early in his administration. 

“The Global Gag Rule has had detrimental effects on the ability of women around the world to access important health services and reproductive care. What’s more, health centers impacted by the Global Gag Rule are often the only providers women and their families have access to in vulnerable parts of the world, which further exacerbates access to comprehensive family health care services for already at-risk populations.  While President Biden rescinded this harmful policy, Congress must act to ensure it can never be implemented again by a future administration,” said Senator Shaheen. “I’m reintroducing the bipartisan Global HER Act to permanently repeal the Global Gag Rule so we can finally take this dangerous policy completely off the table.”  

“For decades, the Global Gag rule has been instated, rescinded, and then once again reinstated. This cycle of inconsistency and uncertainty has far-reaching consequences, threatening the ability of the United States’ partners to provide comprehensive and life-saving care,” said Senator Murkowski. “This legislation will ensure U.S. foreign aid is not hamstrung by changing U.S. policies when providing access to essential health care services. We owe it to women, and the international community as a whole, to permanently repeal this flawed policy.”

“Sexual and reproductive health care should be available and accessible to everyone, no matter what country they live in. And access to reproductive health care and information should not hang in the balance every time there is a party change in the White House. People around the world deserve to live free from the shadow of the global gag rule. We thank Senator Shaheen for leading the charge to make that happen,” said Alexis McGill Johnson, president and CEO, Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “It’s past time for Congress to end the global gag rule once and for all. As we continue to fight for reproductive health care here in the U.S., we cannot and will not forget about those abroad who deserve the same rights and care.”

“The Global Gag Rule has caused harm to people around the world by playing politics with people’s health,” said Nabeeha Kazi Hutchins, President and CEO of PAI. “It is an overreach and disregard to the agency and autonomy of people when Congress dictates what reproductive health services communities should have access to, cutting off funding to those who are unwilling to comply even when they are using their own domestic resources. PAI thanks Senator Jeanne Shaheen for reintroducing the Global HER Act to permanently end a policy that disrupts health, human rights and gender equity abroad.”

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.

Full text of the Global HER Act is available here.

The Global HER Act is cosponsored by Senators 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), Fetterman (D-PA) Gillibrand (D-NY), Hassan (D-NH), Heinrich (D-NM), Hickenlooper (D-CO), Hirono (D-HI), Kaine (D-VA), Kelly (D-AZ), King (I-ME), Klobuchar (D-MN), Luján (D-NM), Markey (D-MA), Merkley (D-OR), Murphy (D-CT), Murray (D-WA), Ossoff (D-GA), Padilla (D-CA), Peters (D-MI), Reed (D-RI), Rosen (D-NV), Sanders (I-VT), Schatz (D-HI), Schumer (D-NY), Sinema (I-AZ), Smith (D-MN), Stabenow (D-MI), Tester (D-MT), Van Hollen (D-MD), Warner (D-VA), Warnock (D-GA), Warren (D-MA), Welch (D-VT), 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.

As 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. Shaheen has prioritized issues to empower women, 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.