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Gag Rule Already Causes Devastating Disruptions in Health Care Around the World

WASHINGTON — Despite the fact that multiple studies found that the global gag rule disrupts access to critical health care around the world, and as COVID-19 continues to claim lives across the globe, today, the Trump administration published a proposed rule for public comment seeking to expand this devastating policy. The “Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance” proposed rule would broaden the global gag rule to apply to global health contracts, newly impacting over 250 contracts and as much as 40% of global health assistance. Because of the global gag rule, the communities that already faced the greatest barriers to care — including women and girls, young people, and LGBTQ+ people — have experienced the most devastating constraints on services. They are also disproportionately affected by the pandemic. They would only be further harmed by this proposed, unprecedented expansion. 

Statement from Monica Kerrigan, executive director, Planned Parenthood Global: 

“The global gag rule was among the first of many attacks the administration launched against health and human rights. Study after study — including from the State Department — has demonstrated that this neocolonialist policy has inflicted a crushing blow to health care access for people around the world, especially those who already face systemic barriers to care, including women and girls, young people, and LGBTQ+ people. And as COVID-19 continues to claim lives and devastate communities, the administration is knowingly moving to expand this policy. There is no excuse for this brazen disregard for people’s health and rights.”

Since 2017, the global gag rule has prohibited foreign non-governmental organizations from receiving any U.S. global health assistance if they provide information, referrals, or services for legal abortion or advocate for the legalization of abortion in their country, even if these activities are supported solely with non-U.S. funds. The Trump administration has already expanded this harmful policy twice, first to apply to all global health assistance and again by extending the gag to any funds from any source that flow through a gagged organization.

Last month, the U.S. Department of State itself released a report on its own global gag rule, confirming that the rule dangerously disrupts access to health care. Despite the State Department’s claims to the contrary, the report outlined a profound impact of the policy on U.S. global health assistance, clearly describing disruptions in care across a range of global health programs, including HIV/AIDS, family planning and reproductive health, tuberculosis, and nutrition. Partners of Planned Parenthood Global — the Heilbrunn Department of Population and Family Health at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health and the African Population and Health Research Center — also recently released research detailing how the Trump administration’s global gag rule has disrupted health care access in Kenya and harmed individuals and communities. Nearly 170 diverse global health groups explicitly oppose the administration’s global gag rule and there is widespread support in Congress to repeal it entirely.  


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.

For more than 45 years, Planned Parenthood Global has supported access to sexual and reproductive health care and advocated for reproductive rights around the world. In partnership with more than 100 organizations across 9 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. Last year, our partners provided over 1.8 million people with sexual and reproductive health information and services. 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.


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