MSH Joins Other Organizations in Calling for Permanent Repeal of the Global Gag Rule

Last week, MSH, along with six other leading US-based international health and development organizations led by Pathfinder International, moved to prevent future ideologically-based restrictions on abortion from being imposed on US family planning programs overseas. The groups joined forces to call on the Senate to support a provision to permanently end the Mexico City policy, also known as the Global Gag Rule. The repeal is in a provision in the upcoming 2010 State Department funding bill to permanently repeal the Mexico City Policy. 

The Global Gag Rule prohibits US family planning assistance to foreign NGOs that provide abortion-related information or services, even if such services are legal in their own countries and are funded with their own money. First instated by President Reagan, the gag rule has been a political ping pong for the last 25 years; traditionally imposed by anti-abortion presidents and repealed by pro-Democratic presidents. If passed, the provision would prevent future presidents from unilaterally imposing the gag rule.   

In a letter to Senate offices, the groups—including Pathfinder International, CARE USA, Engender Health, John Snow Inc., Population Services International, Population Council, and MSH—described how the gag rule has harmed the distribution of contraceptives and, as a result, likely led to an increase in unsafe abortion rates. Despite President Obama’s repeal of the gag rule in January 2009, reports from the field suggest local organizations in developing countries continue to limit the services, information, and referrals they willingly provide for fear of the policy’s reinstatement. 

“The gag rule is bad policy. It erodes access to contraception, interferes with the doctor/patient relationship, and undermines women’s health care around the world,” stated Dan Pellegrom, President of Pathfinder International. “Furthermore, its inconsistent application leaves our partners in developing countries to operate in a near permanent state of confusion and uncertainty.”   

Read the organizational letter to Members of the US Senate. 

Add your voice to the debate. Sign the petition to permanently end the Global Gag Rule.