September 8, 2017

The International Women’s Health Coalition welcomes the committee passage of a funding bill that constitutes an important step by the US Senate toward mitigating the harm of President Trump’s attacks on sexual and reproductive health.

Thanks to an amendment offered by Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), the bill would restore critical bilateral and multilateral funding slashed by President Trump and would permanently repeal the Global Gag Rule. The Gag Rule restricts any organization receiving US global health funds from using even their own funding to provide legal abortion services, information, or referrals, or engaging in advocacy to expand abortion access. It is a deadly blow to women’s rights.

As introduced, the Senate bill closely mirrored the devastating version pending in the House of Representatives—it codified Trump’s expanded Global Gag Rule, slashed funding for reproductive health and family planning, and banned any US contributions to the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), the world’s leading provider of contraception, family planning, and other reproductive health services.

Senator Shaheen’s amendment counters these deadly policies and aims by restoring funding for reproductive health and family planning and allocating resources for UNFPA. Perhaps most critically, and deserving of support, Shaheen’s amendment removes the language codifying the Global Gag Rule and replaces it with language from the Global HER Act, a bipartisan initiative that permanently repeals the policy.

The bill now faces consideration by the full Senate, which should embrace this amendment to ensure lives are not lost. With the inclusion of Senator Shaheen’s amendment, this legislation gives the Senate an opportunity to roll back Trump’s deadly policies that increase unintended pregnancies, unsafe abortions, and maternal and newborn deaths worldwide and reverse decades of progress on reproductive, maternal, and child health.

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