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US: Remove ‘Global Gag Rule’ From House Bill

Provision Would Jeopardize Women’s Health, Free Speech

WASHINGTON - The House Foreign Affairs Committee should remove language that would reinstate the so-called "Global Gag Rule" from the draft Foreign Affairs Authorization Act for fiscal year 2012,  Human Rights Watch said today.  The "Gag Rule" would outlaw US funding to international groups that provide abortions, counsel women about abortion, or engage in advocacy for abortion rights, even if no US funds would be used for those purposes.

This policy, also known as the Mexico City Policy, existed as an executive order under the Bush and Reagan administrations. President Barack Obama repealed it his first week in office. The damaging policy restricted women's choices and promoted censorship in health clinics around the world - factors known to contribute to unwanted pregnancies, unsafe abortions, and maternal mortality. The committee began debating the bill on July 20, 2011.


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A US State Department panel investigated the rumors in 2002 and found "no evidence that UNFPA has knowingly supported or participated in the management of a program of coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization in the PRC." When UNFPA lost funding in the past, it estimated that the US contribution would have prevented 2 million unwanted pregnancies, nearly 800,000 induced abortions, 4,700 maternal deaths, nearly 60,000 cases of serious maternal illness, and over 77,000 infant and child deaths each year.


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Human Rights Watch is one of the world's leading independent organizations dedicated to defending and protecting human rights. By focusing international attention where human rights are violated, we give voice to the oppressed and hold oppressors accountable for their crimes. Our rigorous, objective investigations and strategic, targeted advocacy build intense pressure for action and raise the cost of human rights abuse. For 30 years, Human Rights Watch has worked tenaciously to lay the legal and moral groundwork for deep-rooted change and has fought to bring greater justice and security to people around the world.

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