EngenderHealth Denounces Plan to Implement Expanded Global Gag Rule
May 16, 2017—New York. EngenderHealth, a leading international women’s health organization, strongly denounces the plan released yesterday to implement the dramatically expanded Global Gag Rule, also known as the Mexico City Policy.
The plan, which the U.S. Administration is now calling “Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance,” sets out in detail how the Global Gag Rule will be applied to foreign non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that receive U.S. government health assistance, as well as to U.S.-based organizations such as EngenderHealth that work with foreign NGOs. The plan effectively renames the Mexico City Policy, which was reinstated by President Trump on January 23 as one of the first executive orders of his Administration.
In its current form, the massive expansion of the Mexico City Policy will have an even more devastating impact on women, girls, and families than previously anticipated, in that it broadens the scope of original policy to apply to a broad array of international health programs, including those covering HIV/AIDS, maternal and child health, malaria, global health security, along with family planning and reproductive health.
“This newly expanded policy does the exact opposite of what it claims. Rather than protecting life, it directly undermines the right of women and girls to access comprehensive sexual and reproductive health care, basically setting women’s rights and health back by a half century or more,” said Ulla Müller, President and CEO of EngenderHealth.
In order to receive U.S. assistance, any foreign NGO that receives certain U.S. government funds may be restricted from certain abortion-related activities, such as providing information on abortion. Under U.S. law, organizations already are not permitted to use U.S. government funding to provide, counsel, refer, or advocate for abortions—the Global Gag Rule restricts what foreign NGOs can do with any funding from any source.
“Let’s make no mistake—this policy has everything to do with power, and nothing to do with ‘protection,’” Müller said. “True protection would be preserving a woman’s ability to lead a life in which she can make her own choices about her body and her life. What we have here is a misguided policy that penalizes some of the most effective health organizations and programs in the world, dismantles their ability to deliver integrated health services, and ultimately punishes the most vulnerable women, families, and communities.”
EngenderHealth, which will mark its 75th anniversary next year, urges like-minded partners to continue to clearly communicate the impact of these policies on women and girls.
“As an organization with a 75-year track record in this sector, we will not stand by and let the women and girls we serve be denied access to the very information or services that could prevent life-threatening complications. We will continue to take a principled stand to safeguard the full spectrum of sexual and reproductive health and rights,” Müller said.
EngenderHealth is a leading global women’s health organization committed to working toward a world where sexual and reproductive rights are respected as human rights and women and girls have the freedom to reach their full potential. In nearly 20 countries around the world, EngenderHealth creates lasting change by training health care professionals and partnering with governments and communities to make high-quality family planning and sexual and reproductive health services available today and for all generations to come. Visit www.engenderhealth.org for more information.
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