The Global Gag Rule is gone—but its effects are still hurting women

MSI faces a funding shortfall of $13.5 million as we come to the end of stopgap funding that was secured when Trump first signed the Global Gag Rule. While we celebrate the repeal of this policy, the truth is it could be months before USAID funding begins—and in the meantime, the lingering effects of the Global Gag Rule could be disastrous for women and girls.

In real terms, this shortage equates to 650,000 reproductive healthcare services delivered by our mobile outreach teams, primarily for rural and low-income women with no alternative access. The lingering effects of the Global Gag Rule will continue to hurt women if we don’t close this funding gap.

MSI providers like Annie Ramasy travel for hours to reach remote communities in Madagascar. Under the Global Gag Rule, MSI was forced to end support for health facilities serving rural women.

The Mexico City Policy, also known as the Global Gag Rule, was one of President Trump’s first acts in office in 2017. It was a decision that undid years of progress on global reproductive rights and caused untold pain to millions of women, limiting their opportunities for the future.

MSI refused to sign the Global Gag Rule in 2017 and this meant we relinquished USAID funding. For many of our programs, in Uganda, Madagascar and Nepal, to name but a few, this led to service closures, a recorded rise in unintended pregnancies and unsafe abortions and a broader chilling effect, impacting partnerships and advocacy for women’s healthcare.

In Madagascar, we were forced to end support to over 100 public and 90 private health facilities and reduce outreach services, limiting access for rural women. One woman from Androy, Madagascar, interviewed by Columbia University, shared: “I got pregnant since the [contraceptive] method wasn’t there. Food is already difficult to find, and we weren’t able to buy medicines because there are none in this health center. The truth is that I didn’t choose to get pregnant; it’s because of the stockout.”

For women who faced unwanted pregnancies due to Trump’s Global Gag Rule, the damage is done, and the toll is severe: More unsafe abortions, more pregnancy-related deaths, and families less able to make ends meet.

Now, President Biden has repealed this harmful policy. It’s an important win for reproductive rights around the world—but the effects of Trump’s Global Gag Rule will reverberate long past its repeal.

It will take time to re-open closed programs, re-forge partnerships and get services up and running. Most urgently, it will take months or longer for USAID funding to reach MSI—and in the meantime, we face a serious funding gap.

During the Trump administration, generous donors stepped up to replace the funding we lost from USAID. Now, much of this stopgap funding has ended, and we again need people who believe in choice to stand with us and close this gap. Together, we can keep services going for women who urgently need them and ensure that Trump’s dangerous policies don’t outlive his presidency.

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