In the Press

The Global Gag Rules Affects Women’s Health around the Globe

January 25, 2017

Implementing programs to improve women’s health through family planning in the U.S. and around the world has been at the forefront of our work since John Snow, Inc. (JSI) was founded in 1978. Family planning is an integral component of women’s reproductive health. Women who can plan their families live longer, healthier lives and they have the opportunity to finish their education, pursue work, and strengthen their relationships.

On Monday, January 23rd, President Trump signed an executive order re-implementing the Mexico City Policy, which prevents overseas groups that receive U.S. health funds from using their own money to provide abortion-related services—including counseling or referrals. U.S. government funds have never paid for the provision of abortions or related services. The Trump Administration expanded the policy—also known as the Global Gag Rule—beyond family planning funding to all “global health assistance furnished by all department or agencies,” including HIV and maternal health funding. This action threatens women’s health.

The Global Gag Rule forces organizations that provide information, referrals, or services for legal abortion—and other high-quality, comprehensive primary health care and reproductive health services and counseling to women—to forgo U.S. government funding unless they certify that they will not “perform or actively promote” legal abortion. Through this rule, the U.S. government is telling international organizations that if they accept U.S. government funds, they cannot spend their own money to provide services that are legal in their own and this country.

Today in Buzzfeed, JSI’s Director of HIV and Infectious Diseases Andrew Fullem talks about the effect that the Global Gag Rule will have on programs that over the past decade have worked to streamline services by integrating primary care—including family planning—and HIV. “It’s going to be harder for women, particularly, to have HIV testing and quick, immediate referrals for ARVs,” Fullem said, referring to the anti-retroviral drugs that help HIV-positive people who follow a proper treatment course live as long as HIV-negative people. The article, Trump’s Anti-Abortion Rule Is Broader than Anyone Expected, explores the expected ramifications of the expanded policy.

JSI stands with more than 140 partners in opposition to the U.S.-imposed Global Gag Rule, a policy that will leave millions of women and their families in the developing world without access to the critical health services that they need.

To learn more about JSI’s work, please contact Penelope Riseborough, Director of Communications, at 617-482-9485 or priseborough@jsi.com.