As civil society organizations, we stand united in opposition to the U.S.-imposed Global Gag Rule, which undermines women’s health, rights and autonomy. There are 225 million women in developing countries who want to avoid pregnancy but are not using modern contraception. The Global Gag Rule further hurts an already-dire situation by weakening the effectiveness of U.S. foreign assistance funding by making ineligible some of the most capable and effective organizational partners. The burden of unsafe abortion—a leading cause of maternal death and injury—also falls overwhelmingly on women in these regions.
The Global Gag Rule causes irreparable harm by forcing organizations that provide information, referrals and services for legal abortion to choose between receiving U.S. funding and providing high quality reproductive health services and counseling to women. The Gag Rule causes cuts in services, increases in fees and closures of clinics. Organizations also lose valuable technical assistance and U.S.-donated contraceptives, including condoms.
The world has made incredible progress in improving health and advancing reproductive rights. Many countries have both increased domestic funding for family planning and liberalized abortion laws. A reimposed Global Gag Rule will reverse decades of progress on reproductive, maternal and child health and increase unintended pregnancies and unsafe abortions by putting critical services out of reach. When in place, the Global Gag Rule not only forces organizations to disregard laws established by their governments, it violates the trusted relationship between a woman and her healthcare provider— sometimes at the cost of her life.