Thursday, October 22, 2009

Amendment to Repeal Global Gag Rule Faces Opposition

Obama may have repealed the Mexico City Policy, aka the Global Gag Rule, within days of coming into office, but the extensive damage done to the lives of women and girls as a result of the Global Gag Rule doesn't come and go as easily as the policy itself.

The Washington International Family Planning Coalition (IFPC), in which the FMF and myslef personally are very active, were hearing countless accounts from the ground that even though the policy had been repealed by Obama, large numbers of overseas NGOs are still afraid to start advocating or get involved with any abortion activity out of fear that they would still lose their US funding. This shows how much confusion the back and forth of this policy causes in the field in developing nations across the world. We are dealing with real women's lives here.

The IFPC decided to act. We decided the time was now to start moving on policy that would permanently repeal the Global Gag Rule and stop it from being an Executive Order.

In July, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved an amendment introduced by Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) that would overturn the "Mexico City Policy." Naturally, this has the Antis up in arms. National Right to Life Committee Legislative Director Douglas Johnson told the Congressional Quarterly that his organization is going to fight the bill.

Once again we see abortion politics playing with real women's lives. The Global Gag Rule must be permanently repealed. This policy is a shining example of US domestic abortion politics spilling onto the international arena, allowing policies that would be considered unconstitutional in the US to be implemented abroad, and killing hundreds of thousands of women as a result by denying them access to a full range of reproductive health services. It is always important to remember that even though the Gag Rule is about abortion, it is at its core about family planning. As a direct result of this policy under the Bush Administration, the US completely stopped shipping contraceptives to the countless countries in the developing world.

As Senator Lautenberg told Congressional Quarterly, his amendment would allow international aid organizations to operate without the uncertainty of constantly changing rules. "Health care providers across the globe should be able to care for the health of women and families without ideological obstacles blocking the way," he said.

We couldn't agree with Senator Lautenberg more. Saving women's lives must always be a US policy priority. The time is now to get rid of this policy once and for all.

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