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Global Gag Rule

This is an executive order that essentially blackmails foreign health organizations who depend on U.S. aid. The government does this by offering those funds only on conditions that are dangerous for women. These conditions require that overseas health providers refuse not only to provide abortions but also "gag" them from counseling patients on abortion options.

Global Gag Rule- Bad for Women Worldwide

The Global Gag Rule prohibits the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) from giving family-planning funds to any foreign non-governmental organizations, unless the organization agrees that it will not use any money - including its own, private, non-U.S. funds - for abortion services, abortion-related advocacy, or counseling women about abortion or referring them to a legal abortion provider. It thus essentially "gags” and blackmails overseas health organizations that receive U. S. funds for family planning- if they talk about abortion, they lose their funding.

The Global Gag Rule was first issued by a Reagan Administration executive order in 1984 and continued during the Bush Administration. President Clinton overturned the restrictions by executive order in 1993, but was forced to accept a modified version of them in 1999 as a condition of passage of a funding bill releasing U.S. dues to the United Nations. This marked the first time the Global Gag Rule was written into law, and President Clinton vowed that the provision would not be extended beyond the one-year duration of the funding bill.

On January 22, 2001 - the first business day of his administration - President George W. Bush issued an executive memorandum reinstituting the Global Gag Rule. President Bush’s Gag Rule includes even more restrictions than President Clinton had been forced to accept, including the ban on family planning providers’ ability to counsel or refer clients to legal abortion services.

The Global Gag Rule is deeply flawed as international policy:

  • The Global Gag Rule has nothing to do with keeping U. S. funds from being used for abortion overseas. Since at least 1973, not one U. S. taxpayer dollar is spent to perform or "promote” abortions overseas- such activities are expressly forbidden, and not a single violation of the law prohibiting them has been reported.
  • Although the president claims he wants to use the Global Gag Rule to make abortion rarer, the record shows that the last time the Gag Rule was in effect, it did not reduce the number of abortions. Instead, there was a reduction in women’s access to quality health care services, an increase in unintended pregnancies, and an increase abortions- the exact opposite of the stated goal. In fact, cutting funding for family planning diminishes access to the single most effective means of reducing abortion.
  • Enabling couples to plan the number and spacing of their children helps women bear their children during the healthiest times for both mother and child. Limited access to family planning results in high rates of unintended and high- risk pregnancy, unsafe abortions, and maternal death.
  • The World Health Organization estimates that close to 600, 000 women die every year of causes related to pregnancy or childbirth- more than one woman every minute of every day. Ninety-nine percent of these women live in developing countries.
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