24 Jan 2017

ALERT: Trump Reinstates the Anti-Abortion Global Gag Rule

An Unmitigated Disaster in the Making for Women’s Health and HIV Services

The Global Network of People Living with HIV (GNP+) is deeply disappointed and outraged by the Trump Administration’s dramatic and unconscionable expansion of the ‘Global Gag Rule’ – formally known as the Mexico City Policy. The ‘Global Gag Rule’ disqualifies foreign NGO’s from getting U.S. funding assistance unless they certify, in writing, that they will neither provide nor actively promote abortion regardless of who funds their work. This restriction applies not only to organizations and health care providers that directly engage in abortion services but also to those that provide full and accurate information, education, counselling and referral services for abortion care and family planning, thereby lessening access to contraceptives and other reproductive health services that prevent unwanted pregnancies, STIs and HIV.

The reinstated and expanded Rule now in effect applies to all foreign NGOs that receive assistance monies from all departments and agencies in the U.S. This includes funding from PEPFAR, UNFPA, USAID and all other U.S. funded family planning and reproductive health initiatives, global maternal and health programs and has the possibility of impacting research and clinical trial funds supported by the National Institutes of Health. It is assumed, but not yet entirely clear, whether this policy will also apply to multilateral organizations – such as the Global Fund – that receive substantial U.S. contributions.  The U.S. is the single largest funder of global health programs worldwide. In countries where abortion remains legal, safe and accessible, or in places where civil society has made tremendous progress towards changing antiquated policies that jeopardize the health, safety and wellbeing of girls and women, the reinstated and expanded Global Gag Rule is a huge step backwards.

Adding to the distress, the Rule even prevents foreign NGOs that receive U.S. funding from educating, advocating, discussing or collaborating on policies or initiatives related to abortion in their own communities or with their own governments. As such, this Rule represents an ominous foreshadowing of the types of threats to human rights, democratic sovereignty and freedom of speech that people around the world may face over the next couple of years.  “Make no mistake, the reinstatement of the Global Gag Rule will have profound and devastating effects on the broader HIV movement,” says Rico Gustav, Executive Director a.i. of GNP+  “it represents a radical and deeply distressing attack on the rights, autonomy, health and liberty for women and girls, members of key populations and people living with HIV worldwide and undermines all of our efforts to protect and promote the health and wellbeing of our communities. Now more than ever we must call on donors to prioritize and protect services for key affected populations that are under threat and we must prepare and mobilize our communities for the challenges to come.’’

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