Global Gag Rule 101
Within his first two days in office, President Donald Trump signed an executive order imposing a harsh policy commonly known as the The Global Gag Rule that restricts women’s access to reproductive healthcare around the globe. Many international development organizations and women’s rights groups have spoken out against this executive order. Activists from Melinda Gates, to the UN Foundation’s own CEO, Kathy Calvin, have discussed the Global Gag Rule’s sweeping negative implications and the life threatening consequences that will affect thousands of the world’s most vulnerable women.
But what exactly is the “Global Gag Rule” and how will it be implemented?
What is it?
The Global Gag Rule, also known as the “Mexico City Policy”, was first enacted in 1984 during the Reagan Administration at the 2nd International Conference on Population (held in Mexico City). This policy has subsequently been instated by every Republican president since its inception. Following suit, President Trump has re-instated and expanded the Global Gag Rule for the first time since the Obama Administration rescinded the executive order in 2009.
The Global Gag Rule prohibits international NGOs that receive U.S. foreign assistance funding from providing, referring to, or even sharing information about abortion. As a result, any organization that does provide, refer to, or share information about abortion is no longer eligible for U.S. foreign assistance funding. This lack of funding not only prevents organizations from delivering reproductive healthcare and education to vulnerable populations, but also prevents organizations from providing basic family planning and health services such as HIV testing, contraceptive services, and comprehensive sex education. The conditional funding structure of this policy silences the discussion of women’s reproductive choices, and further endangers women’s access to contraceptives and safe abortions around the world.
How does it affect the UN?
The United Nations supports family planning and reproductive health rights for women everywhere, but especially those in the most vulnerable settings and in cases of extreme poverty.
The UN Population Fund (UNFPA) is an agency of the UN that advocates for safe sexual and reproductive health and provides critical health services, counseling and support to the world’s most vulnerable girls and women. While it has still yet to be seen in action, this new expanded Global Gag Rule could reduce U.S. funding to UNFPA or cut funding all together.
Where does Girl Up and UN Foundation stand?
The UN Foundation supports family planning and sexual and reproductive health rights for girls and women around the world. As a UN Foundation Campaign, Girl Up firmly shares in these values. In fact, some UN Foundation programs such as FP 2020 and Universal Access Project work directly with these issues. Additionally, Kathy Calvin, CEO of United Nations Foundation (UNF) wrote an open letter opposing The Global Gag Rule. You can read that letter here.
What Can I Do?
- Read more on the Global Gag Rule and stay updated! While President Trump has reinstated the Global Gag Rule, how its implementation will play out is still unknown. Stay informed by following some of these top women’s health organizations: Universal Access Project, Center for Reproductive Rights, and the Guttmacher Institute.
- Call your Representatives and Senators! Make your voice heard, and support the Global H.E.R. Act, which aims to repeal the Global Gag Rule permanently
S.210 - Global Health, Empowerment and Rights Act & H.R.671 - HER Act