February 08, 2019

Harris Joins Colleagues in Bipartisan Push to Permanently Repeal the Global Gag Rule

WASHINGTON, D.C. — This week, U.S. Senator Kamala Harris joined colleagues to re-introduce the Global Health, Empowerment, and Rights (HER) Act, a bipartisan, bicameral effort to permanently repeal the harmful Global Gag Rule. The act would ensure that eligible foreign NGOs can operate U.S. health services – including counselling, referral, and legal abortion services – abroad with their own funds. Additionally, the act will work to increase access to health programs that improve health and development standards for women and families in developing countries.

The Global Gag Rule, also known as the Mexico City Policy, is an executive order that bans federal funds for foreign non-governmental organizations that use non-U.S. funds to provide abortion services or provide information about abortion as part of comprehensive family planning services. This forces clinics to choose between providing limited reproductive health services while accepting U.S. foreign aid or providing inclusive family planning and reproductive health care with a limited budget. The ill-conceived policy was rescinded by the Obama administration, only to be reinstated and expanded under the Trump administration. Days after taking office in 2017, President Trump issued an executive order that significantly expanded the policy from previous administrations by applying the ban to every program that falls under global health assistance at the Department of State, USAID and the Department of Health and Human Services.

“The United States should never force non-government organizations to choose between receiving American aid and providing comprehensive reproductive health care to women across the world,” said Senator Harris. “I’m proud to join my colleagues in this effort to permanently repeal the harmful Global Gag Rule.”

The Global HER Act would:

  • Ensure that eligible foreign NGOs can continue to operate U.S.-supported health programs abroad, particularly those that provide legal health services to women -- including counseling, referral, and legal abortion services -- with their own, non-U.S. funds;
  • Guarantee that foreign NGOs will not be forced to sacrifice their right to free speech in order to participate in U.S.-supported programs abroad;
  • Help expand access to health programs for women around the world to improve health and development outcomes for entire families, communities, and developing countries. 

The Global HER Act is cosponsored by U.S. Senators Shaheen (D-NH), Baldwin (D-WI), Blumenthal (D-CT), Booker (D-NJ), Brown (D-OH), Cantwell (D-WA), Cardin (D-MD), Carper (D-DE), Collins (R-ME), Coons (D-DE), Duckworth (D-IL), Durbin (D-IL), Feinstein (D-CA), Gillibrand (D-NY), Hassan (D-NH), Hirono (D-HI), Kaine (D-VA), King (I-ME), Klobuchar (D-MN), Leahy (D-VT), Markey (D-MA), Menendez (D-NJ), Merkley (D-OR), Murkowski (R-AK), Murphy (D-CT), Murray (D-WA), Peters (D-MI), Reed (D-RI), Schatz (D-HI), Stabenow (D-MI), Tester (D-MT), Udall (D-NM), Van Hollen (D-MD), Warren (D-MA), Whitehouse (D-RI), Wyden (D-OR), Cortez Masto (D-NV), Casey (D-PA), Smith (D-MN), Sinema (D-AZ), Rosen (D-NV), Warner (D-VA), Heinrich (D-NM), Sanders (I-VT) and Bennet (D-CO).

Representative Nita Lowey (NY-17) introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives.

Text of the Global HER Act can be read here.