28 January 2022 heralds one year since President Biden rescinded the harmful Global Gag Rule (GGR). Otherwise known as the Mexico City Policy, its expansion in 2017 under Trump affected 12 billion dollars of funding, impacting thousands of life-saving healthcare services worldwide – especially across low-income countries.
But while rescindment is a positive first step, the long-term harm of the Global Gag Rule lingers on. For IPPF, 53 healthcare projects in 32 countries were hit, with some Member Associations losing up to 60% of their funding. Programmes affected include HIV prevention and care, maternal health and nutrition, STI services, gender-based violence prevention, and services for vulnerable children.
And although we have begun to re-establish long-standing partnerships, it takes time for funding to flow and to re-open closed healthcare clinics and community services – with some lost forever. In the meantime, there are women and girls who desperately need healthcare that have nowhere to turn.
But in February, the US Congress has an opportunity to change the sexual and reproductive health landscape forever through a final negotiated funding bill that includes a permanent end to the deadly Global Gag Rule.
As we celebrate one year of rescindment, we know the work is not done yet, but we are hopeful for the futures of millions of women and girls worldwide. We urge the US Congress to permanently repeal the Global Gag Rule to fully eradicate the lasting impact of the Mexico City Policy that has harmed women and girls around the world for 40 years.
Dr Alvaro Bermejo, Director-General of the International Planned Parenthood Federation, said:
"Five years ago, Trump expanded the Global Gag Rule, a devastating neo-colonialist policy that forbids US aid to any organization that supports access to safe abortion care, disproportionately affecting women and girls in low-income countries. Today we mark one year since President Biden rescinded it, but the long-term harm and impacts don't simply go away.
"The Gag Rule is a callously designed mechanism set up to deny women and girls the right to decide what happens to their bodies. Its implementation doesn't just destroy life-saving abortion services but erodes access to other sexual and reproductive healthcare, including contraception, leading ultimately to increases in unintended pregnancy and forcing many to turn to unsafe and dangerous abortion methods.
"While rescindment is a positive first step, the looming threat of reinstatement under future anti-rights administrations undermines the sustainability of global sexual health programs and the pace of progress. After 40 long years, the time to act is now – we urge the US Congress to end this political game and stand up for the futures of millions of at-risk women and girls by permanently repealing the Global Gag Rule.
"By leaving a legacy that gives hope and stability to the sexual and reproductive health of people worldwide, the US will once again be a champion, leader, and innovator of human rights for all."
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