The Global Gag Rule has been used as a political football since it was initially instated by Ronald Reagan in 1984, with women in the developing world bearing the brunt of this harmful policy that was also active under the Bush Sr. and Bush Jr Administrations. Though the Global Gag Rule Executive Order was rescinded by President Obama, nothing stops it from being reinstated through an Executive Order by a new president in the future. In a 17 – 11 vote by the Senate State-Foreign Operations Committee, a permanent repeal became part of the Senate fiscal 2010 State-Foreign Operations spending bill (S 1434). Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) offered the amendment that ensures a hostile administration cannot reinstate the Global Gag Rule without changing the law through Congress. Senator Lautenberg in a recent CQ Today article stated, “Health care providers across the globe should be able to care for the health of women and families without ideological obstacles blocking the way.”
The full Senate has yet to take up the bill for passage since it passed out of Committee in July 2009 – perhaps due to the fact that the National Right to Life Committee is raising its opposition to the Lautenberg amendment and mounting pressure against it. Because they will “score” the vote in this way, which affects their endorsement of political candidates in the future, middle of the road Senators can be swayed by the pressure. If that happens, it may be challenging to pass the bill without the 60 votes likely to be needed in the Senate.