SHJ Signs Onto Coalition Statement Opposing Reinstatement of Global Gag Rule

SHJ signs onto coalition statement opposing reinstatement of global gag rule


Farmington Hills, MI, July 7, 2015  – We join together as diverse voices from a variety of sectors to oppose any effort to reinstate the harmful global gag rule, also known as the Mexico City Policy. While the Helms Amendment restricts U.S. foreign assistance funding for abortions “as a method of family planning,” the global gag rule goes a step further by preventing foreign organizations using their own funds to provide information, referrals, or services for legal abortion or to advocate for access to abortion services in their own country from receiving U.S. international family planning assistance.


The global gag rule causes serious harm in countries around the world. The policy interferes with the doctor-patient relationship by restricting medical information healthcare providers may offer, limits free speech by prohibiting local citizens from participating in public policy debates, and impedes women’s access to family planning by cutting off funding for many of the most experienced health care providers who have chosen to prioritize quality reproductive-health services and counseling over funding that restricts care and censors information.


When in place, the negative impacts of the global gag rule have been broad and severe: health services have been dismantled in a number of communities; clinics that provided a range of reproductive, maternal, and child health care, including HIV testing and counseling, were forced to close; outreach efforts to hard to reach populations were eliminated; and access to contraceptives was severely limited, resulting in more unintended pregnancies and more unsafe abortions. Here is the testimony of one organization that experienced the impact of the global gag rule when it was last in place:


“After refusing the terms of the gag rule in 2001, at Family Health Options Kenya we lost a significant amount of funding from USAID with serious and damaging effects on our ability to provide crucial reproductive health and family planning services. We were forced to close six clinics, all of which provided critical services to poor and underserved populations in urban, peri-urban and rural areas including family planning, voluntary counseling and testing for HIV, management of sexually transmitted infections, post-abortion care and maternal and child health services. Following the closure of these clinics in 2005, at least 9,000 people – primarily women and children – were left with little or no access to health care.” – FHOK, 2013


Countries around the world are making significant progress in improving women’s health and bringing back this harmful policy would undermine that momentum. Developing and donor countries alike are stepping up to prioritize and make tangible headway in closing the gap on access to modern family planning through increased funding and better policies. This momentum, which includes global partnerships like Family Planning 2020, builds on the essential foundation of U.S. investments in this sector. A reinstatement of the gag rule would seriously hinder the effectiveness of U.S. global health investments and the growing global progress that we, as a global community, have made in expanding access to family planning for couples worldwide and in reducing maternal mortality.


The U.S. should be a leader when it comes to promoting democracy, women’s health, and human rights around the world. U.S. foreign aid should never be used as a tool to limit women’s access to health care or to censor free speech. Organizations should not be disqualified from receiving U.S. assistance because they use their own funds to provide health services and information that are legal in their home country and legal in the U.S. Supporters of women’s health and free speech must oppose the harmful global gag rule and we call on Congress to reject all efforts to again impose this policy on women around the world.


Endorsing Organizations:
1. Advocates for Youth
2. AIDS Foundation of Chicago
3. AIDS United
4. American Association of University Women (AAUW)
5. American Civil Liberties Union
6. American Humanist Association
7. American Jewish World Service
8. amfAR (The Foundation for AIDS Research)
9. Amnesty International USA
10. AVAC
11. Black Women’s Health Imperative
13. Catholics for Choice
14. Center for Biological Diversity
15. Center for Health and Gender Equity (CHANGE)
16. Center for Reproductive Rights
17. Center for Women Policy Studies
18. Disciple Public Witness; Disciples of Christ
19. Disciples for Choice
20. Disciples Justice Action Network
21. Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation
22. EngenderHealth
23. Family Care International
24. Feminist Majority
25. Global Doctors for Choice
26. Global Youth Coalition on HIV/AIDS (GYCA)
27. Healthy Teen Network
28. Institute for Science and Human Values
29. International Center for Research on Women
30. International Planned Parenthood Federation
31. International Planned Parenthood/Western Hemisphere Region
32. International Women’s Health Coalition
33. IntraHealth International
34. Ipas
35. John Snow, Inc.
36. JWI
37. Lutheran Women’s Caucus
38. Management Sciences for Health
39. Marie Stopes International-US
40. Medical Students for Choice
41. Methodist Federation for Social Action
42. NARAL Pro-Choice America
43. National Abortion Federation
44. National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF)
45. National Center for Lesbian Rights
46. National Council of Jewish Women
47. National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association
48. National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health
49. National LGBTQ Task Force
50. National Organization for Women
51. National Partnership for Women & Families
52. National Women’s Law Center
53. PAI
54. Partners for Development
55. Pathfinder International
56. Physicians for Reproductive Health
57. Planned Parenthood Federation of America
58. Population Connection Action Fund
59. Population Council
60. Population Institute
61. Population Services International
62. Positive Women’s Network – USA
63. Religious Institute
64. Reproductive Health Technologies Project
65. Sierra Club
66. SisterLove, Inc.
67. Society for Humanistic Judaism
68. The Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice
69. Union for Reform Judaism
70. Unitarian Universalist Association
71. Unitarian Universalist Women’s Federation
72. United Methodist General Board of Church & Society
73. URGE: Unite for Reproductive & Gender Equity
74. WIN (Women’s Information Network)
75. Women of Reform Judaism
76. Women Thrive Worldwide
77. Women’s Refugee Commission
78. Women’s Research & Education Institute