Last week, Congressional leaders announced that a deal had been reached on spending for 2022. The deal does not include a permanent repeal of the Global Gag Rule (GGR) as was hoped by MSI Reproductive Choices and women’s rights organizations around the world.
The Global Gag Rule prevents foreign organizations that receive U.S. aid from providing abortion services, information and referrals or advocating for access to abortion in their countries, even with funding from non-U.S. sources.
First introduced during the Reagan administration, rescinded by every subsequent Democratic president and reinstated by every Republican, the Global Gag Rule forces organizations to choose between funding and providing their clients with essential healthcare services and information. It makes organizations that don’t provide abortion services afraid to partner with organizations that do, with the net effect of compromised health care for women.
“Reproductive choice saves and changes lives and the Global Gag Rule policy, reinstated and expanded under Trump, undid years of global progress, causing untold suffering to millions of women and limiting their opportunities for the future,” said Simon Cooke, CEO of MSI Reproductive Choices.
With a Democrat in the White House and control of both the House and Senate, it finally looked as if a permanent repeal of the Rule was possible. Language to repeal the GGR permanently was included in both the House and Senate appropriation bills, but only passed in the House. The bill advanced by the Senate was void of a permanent GGR repeal. It is that bill that will be signed into law by President Biden.
“It is deeply disappointing that the US Congress’s Spending Bill failed to permanently repeal the Global Gag Rule or put in place other important policy changes,” said Cooke.
Cooke noted that while the Biden administration had rescinded the Global Gag Rule, “the failure to permanently repeal it leaves women and girls’ access to life-saving care in jeopardy and their chance to determine their futures at risk.”
While the news is disappointing, there is no time to lament the decision. Women are waiting and MSI will not be deterred.
Cooke explained, “Despite the incredibly challenging funding environment, MSI’s commitment to women is unwavering and we look forward to working together with the Biden-Harris administration and our other partners to expand access to essential sexual and reproductive healthcare and all the transformative benefits it brings.”