New House Bill Would Prevent Harmful Federal Restrictions That Deny Safe Abortion Services to Millions Worldwide

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Natalia Garzon, International Press Officer, Center for Reproductive Rights

Tel: 00 1 917 637 3668 / Mobile: 00 1 917 257 9793 / Email: ngarzon@reprorights.org

New House Bill Would Prevent Harmful Federal Restrictions That Deny Safe Abortion Services to Millions Worldwide

Rep. Nita Lowey and more than 100 other Representatives sponsor new legislation that puts an end to future presidents imposing the Global Gag Rule

WASHINGTON - New federal legislation was introduced today in the U.S. House of Representatives that would prevent future U.S. presidents from imposing a harmful policy barring any organization that receives U.S. international family planning assistance from providing information, referrals, or services for legal abortion, even with their own funds.

Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY) along with 119 cosponsors introduced the “Global Democracy Promotion Act,” which would put an end to the harmful Mexico City Policy, more commonly known as the Global Gag Rule, which also bans U.S.-funded family planning groups from advocating for the decriminalization of abortion in the countries they are based.

The Global Gag Rule was first imposed during the Reagan Administration in 1984, and has been alternately rescinded by Democratic presidents and reimposed by Republican presidents. President Barack Obama rescinded the Global Gag Rule shortly after taking office in 2009. However, without the Global Democracy Promotion Act, a future president could unilaterally reimpose the Global Gag Rule.

Said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights:

“For over 30 years the United States has tied the hands of international family planning organizations from providing women with the critical reproductive health services they need, including safe abortion services.

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“The United States should support the health and lives of women worldwide, not trample on their reproductive rights and the free speech of organizations from advocating for abortion law reform.

“We applaud Representative Lowey and her progressive colleagues in the House and Senate for standing up to put an end to the Global Gag Rule.”

The introduction of Rep. Lowey’s bill coincides with an effort by conservative lawmakers to legislatively reimpose the Global Gag Rule, despite the evidence of its harmful impact on women. A bipartisan Senate version of the Global Democracy Promotion Act was introduced by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) in March of this year; the Senate bill (S. 677) has 20 cosponsors.

Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-NY-17), the Ranking Member on the House Appropriations Committee, released the following statement on the introduction of the Global Democracy Promotion Act:

“Women around the world deserve the ability to make healthy choices for themselves and their families. It’s time to permanently put in place responsible policy that makes it easier – not harder – for women to receive full and consistent access to family planning and reproductive health services.

“That’s why over 100 House colleagues and I have reintroduced the Global Democracy Promotion Act, which would permanently repeal the ill-conceived Global Gag Rule and ensure that foreign NGOs would never again have to choose between free speech or operating U.S.-supported health programs.

“This should not be a partisan issue. I urge House and Senate leadership to finally do the right thing - pass this critically important legislation and empower women with access to comprehensive health care.”

While supporters of the Global Gag Rule claim that it reduces the number of abortions, the facts demonstrate otherwise. A 2011 study conducted by Stanford University researchers and published in the Bulletin of the World Health Organization concluded that the Global Gag Rule was responsible for an increase in abortion rates; another 2011 study of women in Ghana found that the abortion rate was higher in rural areas when the Global Gag Rule was in effect. A 2003 report by the Center for Reproductive Rights concluded that the Global Gag Rule also “helps perpetuate unsafe abortion” in countries with restrictive abortion laws and limited access to safe abortion services.

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The Center for Reproductive Rights uses the law to advance reproductive freedom as a fundamental human right that all governments are legally obligated to protect, respect, and fulfill.

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