February 5, 2020

Today, the US House Committee on Foreign Affairs hosted “Unique Challenges Women Face in Global Health,” a hearing that detailed the devastating consequences of the Trump administration’s policies on women’s health and rights worldwide.

“Endangering women’s sexual and reproductive health and their ability to make decisions about their own bodies and lives is a central priority of the Trump administration. Since day one, the administration has targeted the most marginalized women and girls by cutting off their access to critical health services, leaving them without the means to prevent unintended pregnancies, and causing preventable deaths,” said Françoise Girard, president of the International Women’s Health Coalition (IWHC). “We commend the Committee on Foreign Affairs for hosting this hearing and holding the administration accountable for its cruel and counterproductive attacks on women’s health and rights.”

Foremost among these attacks is the deadly Global Gag Rule—a policy that prohibits US global health funding to foreign nongovernmental organizations that provide, refer, counsel, or advocate for abortion care. Since the administration reinstated and expanded the Global Gag Rule, IWHC has worked with partners in Kenya, Nepal, Nigeria, and South Africa to document its impact. The evidence is clear: the policy has caused widespread harms to the health of women and girls worldwide by reducing access to contraception, maternal and child care, safe abortion, HIV/AIDs testing and treatment, and cancer screenings, and leading to the preventable death of young and marginalized women.

Coupled with other policies such as defunding the United Nations Population Fund, attempting to weaken global commitments to women’s health, and restricting the travel of pregnant people to the US, the Trump administration has asserted itself as a threat to women’s health globally. These attacks are mirrored domestically with the implementation of the Domestic Gag Rule—which prohibits federal funding to organizations that offer the provision of abortion and referrals—the tracking of migrant’s menstruation cycles and denial of legal abortion services, and other attacks on access to contraception and abortion, jeopardizing the health and well-being of patients and silencing providers.

Taken together, these policies represent an effort to punish women for their sexuality and limit their reproductive freedom. The administration must be held accountable for its relentless attacks on sexual and reproductive health and rights: this begins with holding hearings like the one today and passing the Global HER Act to once and for all end the Global Gag Rule.

IWHC’s statement for the hearing record can be viewed here.

Contact: Liza Kane-Hartnett; (+1) 917.498.3346

Photo: Jonathan Torgovnik