Legislative package would also prioritize critical international family planning investments
WASHINGTON — Today, the House Appropriations Committee advanced the State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs (SFOPs) FY2022 spending bill, legislation that would make historic progress for health worldwide. The bill — led by SFOPs subcommittee chair and reproductive health care champion Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA-13) — would permanently repeal the global gag rule, remove Helms Amendment restrictions, and make critical investments in family planning and reproductive health across the globe.
Statement from Alexis McGill Johnson, president and CEO, Planned Parenthood Federation of America:
“Planned Parenthood is thrilled to see much-needed investments in sexual and reproductive health care around the globe in this legislative package. Because of the tireless work of subcommittee Chair Barbara Lee and other reproductive health champions on the Appropriations Committee, this historic bill would permanently end the global gag rule, prioritize investments in international family planning and UNFPA, and begin the process to remove Helms Amendment restrictions — all steps that would improve health care access and outcomes across the world. Today’s legislation is long overdue, and we urge — and will support — its swift passage on the House floor.”
Three amendments attacking pro-reproductive health funding and policy provisions in the bill were soundly defeated during the markup, with health care champions on the committee dominating the debate. They spoke passionately about the urgent need to expand access to care around the world by permanently repealing the devastating global gag rule, lifting the Helms Amendment restrictions, and prioritizing funding for family planning and UNFPA.
The global gag rule prohibits non-governmental organizations in other countries from receiving any U.S. global health assistance if they provide, refer, counsel or advocate for legal abortion in their country — even if these activities are supported solely with non-U.S. funds. Study after study has demonstrated that the neocolonialist global gag rule devastates health care access for people around the world, especially those who already face systemic barriers to care.
This global gag rule was originally imposed by the Reagan administration, and has been cyclically rescinded and reinstated with every party shift of the White House. After President Trump reimposed and radically expanded the policy, extending its harm and devastation to even more women and communities, President Biden rescinded it on January 28, 2021. Marginalized communities — including women and girls, young people, and LGBTQ+ people — have experienced the most devastating constraints on services as a result of the global gag rule. Tragically, this harm does not fully stop even when the policy is not in effect. The looming threat of its return undermines sustainable progress on global health and gender equality, reinforcing the need to end this policy once and for all. Earlier this month, a coalition of over 200 international civil society organizations released a joint statement calling for this permanent action.
For nearly 50 years, the Helms Amendment has created harmful barriers to safe and legal health care for millions around the globe. The policy endangers lives, stigmatizes abortion, and undermines the advancement of health, human rights, and gender equality. The Helms Amendment restricts the ability of individuals to make their own personal medical decisions, and denies access to comprehensive reproductive health care. Women and young people in low-income countries are disproportionately affected — losing access to crucial care that could save lives and change communities.
Beyond moving towards historic progress to end the global gag rule and Helms Amendment, today’s package would also make critical investments in international family planning programs, including nearly doubling U.S. contributions to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) to $70 million and increasing funding for bilateral family planning to $760 million. Following more than a decade of flat funding, these investments are an important step toward helping fulfill the unmet need for contraceptives of 218 million women in low- and middle-income countries.
Planned Parenthood is the nation’s leading provider and advocate of high-quality, affordable sexual and reproductive health care for all people, as well as the nation’s largest provider of sex education. With more than 600 health centers across the country, Planned Parenthood organizations serve all patients with care and compassion, with respect, and without judgment, striving to create equitable access to health care. Through health centers, programs in schools and communities, and online resources, Planned Parenthood is a trusted source of reliable education and information that allows people to make informed health decisions. We do all this because we care passionately about helping people lead healthier lives. Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization that supports the independently incorporated Planned Parenthood affiliates operating health centers across the U.S.
For 50 years, Planned Parenthood Global has supported access to sexual and reproductive health care and advocated for reproductive rights around the world. In partnership with nearly 100 organizations across nine focus countries in Africa and Latin America, we advance the health and rights of young people, women and families, with an emphasis on the most vulnerable and underserved. Each year, our partners provide sexual and reproductive health information and services to nearly 2 million people. Our unique sustainability model sets us apart, as we empower partners to stand on their own. We help grassroots organizations develop solid reproductive health programs, identify other sources of funding, build their communications and advocacy skills, and develop strategic plans. Planned Parenthood Global is the international arm of Planned Parenthood Federation of America.