Today, a Senate committee took a first and important step to permanently repeal the Global Gag Rule during markup of the fiscal year 2011 State Foreign Operations appropriations bill. With bipartisan support (not easy to get these days), the first step in the legislative process to end the long-time political back and forth of this public health issue was successful – passing by a vote of 19 – 11. About a year ago, Senators Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) introduced the same amendment during markup of the previous year’s State Foreign Operations appropriations bill – though the full Senate did not finalize action on it as a separate bill, so the provisions did not go any further. IWHC has been working in coalition with organizations and community supporters to achieve a permanent solution to this harmful policy through sustained action. In addition to grassroots outreach to policy makers, there have been several efforts to keep this issue on the front burner, including: a letter from IWHC and 35 other NGO’s asking each U.S. Senator to support the Lautenberg Amendment; a letter signed by almost 300 organizations to key decision makers in Congress urging them to take the necessary steps to undo this 25 year old problem; and most recently, and leading up to today’s victory, a request from 35 Senators to Committee leadership urging action to permanently repeal the Global Gag Rule.
This is only the first step in the process (the full Senate must retain the language, a conference committee that meets to work out the differences between the Senate and House bills will need to keep this provision in the bill, and then entire bill needs to pass both houses again). We are thrilled that this critical first step forward was taken and applaud Senator Lautenberg and other supporters on the Committee for their leadership in protecting and promoting the health and rights of women and young people.
Learn more about the history of the Global Gag Rule with this IWHC resource – Putting Politics Before Public Health: The Global Gag Rule