Sen. Shaheen, Rep. Lowey Introduce the Global HER Act to Permanently End the Global Gag Rule
For Immediate Release: Feb. 7, 2019 (Updated: Feb. 7, 2019, 1:05 p.m.)
“The American people issued a mandate in the 2018 elections to protect their health care and rights -- and the new Congress is taking notice and taking action”
WASHINGTON — Reproductive health champions in Congress introduced legislation today to permanently repeal the global gag rule, which blocks international organizations from receiving any U.S. global health assistance if they provide, counsel, refer or advocate for abortion services – even if they are doing so with separate, non-U.S. funds, and even if abortion is legal in the country. President Donald Trump implemented the harmful global gag rule on his first day in office, expanding the policy so that it applied to HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment, maternal and child health, and malaria programs, among others. This harmful policy was in place during Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and George W. Bush’s administrations, but only applied to U.S. international family planning assistance. Today, Congress is acting on the mandate from their constituents to protect and expand access to health care and working to repeal the harmful actions by the Trump-Pence administration.
The Global Health, Empowerment, and Rights (HER) Act would permanently repeal the global gag rule, ensuring that qualified foreign non-government organizations can continue to operate U.S.-supported health programs abroad. The bill was introduced by reproductive health champions Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-NY-17) in the House, with 150 cosponsors, and by Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) in the Senate, with bipartisan support and 45 cosponsors. The Global HER Act is endorsed by over 100 diverse organizations.
Statement of Dr. Leana Wen, President, Planned Parenthood Federation of America:
We know that when we invest in global health, we save lives, transform communities, and change the trajectory for generations to come. As a physician and researcher, I have seen the life-changing impact of global health investments. We in public health know the cost of the global gag rule: it makes it even harder for people around the world to access to contraception and protection against STIs and HIV. Communities are losing access to essential services from antiretrovirals to nutritional support to birth control. This is unethical, dangerous, and unacceptable. The American people issued a mandate in the 2018 elections to protect their health care and rights -- and the new Congress is taking notice and taking action.
In January, Planned Parenthood Global released an impact report, making clear that, due to the expanded global gag rule, people around the world are losing access to vital health education and services – from antiretrovirals for people with HIV, to nutritional support for children, to contraceptive information for women. Planned Parenthood Global spoke with people affected by the policy firsthand, including voices from humanitarian groups, organizations working with people living with HIV/AIDS, and non-reproductive health providers that are impacted by the expanded policy. One hundred sixty-nine diverse organizations oppose the global gag rule, including domestic and global reproductive health and justice, human rights, public health, anti-trafficking, and refugee organizations.
At home and abroad, the Trump-Pence administration is pushing policies that ask doctors to make the impossible choice between being censored from providing the best care possible or stopping providing care to patients that face the greatest barriers to accessing health care. The administration has proposed a domestic gag rule, which would radically change Title X, the nation’s program for birth control and other reproductive health care, in which 78 percent of program recipients earn less than 150 percent of the poverty line. The rule would gag physicians from referring women for abortion services, and make it impossible for Planned Parenthood health centers to continue to serve patients through the program. Patients expect their providers to speak honestly with them, to answer their questions, to help them in their time of need. It is harmful for politicians to restrict physicians from speaking honestly to their patients and censor what physicians can say to their patients, simply because they are low income.
Planned Parenthood is the nation’s leading provider and advocate of high-quality, affordable health care for women, men, and young 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. Through health centers, programs in schools and communities, and online resources, Planned Parenthood is a trusted source of reliable health information that allows people to make informed health decisions. We do all this because we care passionately about helping people lead healthier lives.