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Frequently Asked Questions

Do You Really Know the Global Gag Rule?

On January 28, 2021, in one of his first actions as president, Joe Biden rescinded the Global Gag Rule ⁠— a policy that risks people’s health and lives by forcing non-U.S. nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to choose between receiving U.S. global health assistance and providing comprehensive sexual and reproductive health care. While the Global Gag Rule was in effect under the Trump-Pence administration, NGOs that complied with this policy were required to not provide information, referrals or services for legal abortion or to advocate for the legalization of abortion in their country with their own, non-U.S. funds.

For decades, PAI has documented the impact of the Global Gag Rule in our research series Access Denied and works with in-country partners as well as champions on Capitol Hill to mitigate its harmful effects. Here, we address common questions and persistent misconceptions about the Global Gag Rule.

The History

Where did the Global Gag Rule come from?

The Basics

Does the Global Gag Rule prevent tax dollars from being spent on abortion?

But isn’t that money fungible and don’t U.S. taxpayer dollars indirectly support abortion?

Do Americans support the Global Gag Rule?

The Details

How was the Global Gag Rule different under the Trump-Pence administration?

How did the Global Gag Rule take effect?

Were there any exceptions for abortion-related services under the Global Gag Rule?

What are the consequences of the Global Gag Rule?

The Numbers

The Global Gag Rule is insidious because it took money away from recipients of U.S. global health assistance originally awarded the funding because they were the most qualified providers, who refused to deny women their sexual and reproductive rights.

The Global Gag Rule did not change the amount of U.S. spending on global health assistance, it just made those investments less effective. 

Did the Global Gag Rule cut U.S. funding levels?

The Solution

On January 28, 2021, champions of sexual and reproductive health and rights in the U.S. House and Senate reintroduced the Global Health, Empowerment and Rights (Global HER) Act. This piece of legislation would permanently repeal the expanded Global Gag Rule and prevent future administrations from inserting their political ideologies between patients and health care providers in other countries. While this is a significant first step to undo the policy’s harm, the bill will not be enacted into law until it is passed by Congress and signed by President Biden.

Until the Global HER Act is law, the Global Gag Rule will be a looming threat to in-country health systems around the world. Globally, advocates are pushing their national governments to prevent future impact of the policy through domestic resource mobilization and progressive policymaking for sexual and reproductive health and rights. The Global Gag Rule provides a strong example of how the shifting policies of donor countries adversely impact the health priorities of sovereign nations.