The WBA is deeply disappointed that President Trump has reinstated what is known as the Global Gag rule, which bars United States aid for groups that provide or “promote” abortion abroad. Not only is reproductive freedom at the core of the WBA’s mission, but so is the spread of education about women’s health. Before this action, it was already the case that U.S. dollars were not used directly to fund abortions. The dangerous change is that non-government organizations receiving funding from the U.S. now must pledge (1) not to use funding from other sources for abortions; and (2) not to “actively promote” abortion, which has traditionally meant not providing basic information or referrals in the area.
Further, the Global Gag rule prohibits the NGOs from promoting changes in a country’s laws or policies related to abortion (i.e. engaging in lobbying). Thus, the right to petition the government – a valued and protected right in the U.S. – is denied to those in other countries if they accept desperately need family planning assistance. Given the widespread challenges facing women all over the globe in obtaining contraception, accessing reliable information about women’s health issues, and feeling safe in health care settings, the U.S. has taken a huge step back in both supporting women and in serving as a leader in the global health community. In the past, when the Global Gag rule was in place, it meant that foreign NGOs unable to comply with the strict regulations would have fewer resources to support family planning and provide access to modern contraceptives. It is our hope that our members will voice their concern, be vigilant in monitoring the women’s health landscape and holding public officials accountable, and work with us to improve the status of women in the Commonwealth and around the world.
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