OPINION: Déjà Rule: The Health Damaging Consequences of Reinstating the Global Gag Rule in 2015

Thursday, November 20, 2014

This year, the Foreign Operations Bill proposed by the House of Representatives includes the restoration of $300 million in funding for the successful President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), which has been chronically underfunded in recent years. The restored funding would prevent an estimated 62,000 AIDS related deaths, place over 54,000 HIV positive pregnant women on antiretroviral treatment in low-income countries, and prevent as many as 16,800 infant HIV infections. Unfortunately, the proposed legislation also contains a discredited policy that could undercut the health impact of these additional funds.

The Global Gag Rule, also known as the Mexico City Policy, was repealed by President Obama during his first week in office, but has since been written back into the proposed House bill for fiscal year 2015. While the use of U.S. funds for abortion services is already prohibited by the Helms amendment (1973), this policy would ban any organization providing abortions, counseling or referrals for abortions, or advocating for abortion access in its own country from receiving U.S. aid. This restriction on speech applies even if the organization is using its own funds for these activities. The result is that foreign organizations must choose between providing comprehensive women’s health services or losing U.S. funding, which could lead to their closure.

Source: The Huffington Post (link opens in a new window)

Health Care