The U.S. Senate is in the process of allocating funding for various priorities in the FY2010 State/Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill. The bill not only deals with health investments for women and girls, but, excitingly, it now also includes an amendment introduced by Senator Lautenberg that would ensure that a new Administration cannot reinstate the Global Gag Rule.
Just how important is this new provision?
Adrienne Germain, President of IWHC, has attributed the establishment of the International Women’s Health Coalition in part to the advent of the Global Gag Rule, a policy which forbids family planning organizations who receive US foreign aid from performing abortions, discussing safe abortion as an option with patients, or advocating for abortion law liberalization or reform in their own countries.
“President Ronald Reagan is to thank, in part, for the establishment of the International Women’s Health coalition in 1984. That year… the ‘Global Gag Rule’ denied U.S. funds to private organizations that support safe, legal abortion for poor women throughout the world…We established IWHC to promote reproductive health and rights and defend access to safe abortion.”
Lyn Messner, Program Office for Africa and longtime women’s rights advocate, has witnessed the effects firsthand based on her work in over 25 countries spanning over a decade.
“Our partners on the ground, and more importantly the women and girls with whom they work, have had unequal opportunity over the years because of the Global Gag rule. Girls Power Initiative, for example, an organization that provides Nigerian girls between the ages of 10 and 18 with vital information about their bodies, their rights, and their responsibilities, empowering them to avoid unwanted pregnancies, HIV/AIDS, and violent or coercive relationships, had to refuse funding opportunities because the money came with provisions limiting their ability to offer comprehensive information and services. Opportunities to continue their important work and meet the demand to reach more girls will be expanded with the permanent elimination of the Global Gag Rule.”
Emily Douglas over at RHReality check has a great post up with more about the history of the Gloval Gag Rule and the importance of making sure it is eliminated for good.
This bill is expected to see floor action starting July 13, so your action is required now.