Merkley, Wyden support bill to repeal ‘global gag rule’

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Oregon Sens. Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden are co-sponsoring a bill that would repeal the Mexico City Policy, an anti-abortion measure reinstated by President Donald Trump that threatens to strip funding from healthcare providers around the world.

Trump is the first president to expand the policy, known as the global gag rule, making it applicable to every foreign department or agency that receives U.S. health aid, not just family planning groups.

The U.S. government already doesn’t provide funding for abortion services at home or abroad under the Hyde and Helm Amendments enacted in the 1970s.

But the global gag rule threatens to take away vital U.S. funding from any health organization that goes so far as to discuss the option of safe abortion with patients.

That means international health groups that focus on things like treating HIV/AIDS, combating infectious disease and supporting child nutrition are at risk of losing vital funding. Without U.S. funds, many of these programs would cease to exist.

Merkley and Wyden are among a bipartisan group of senators behind the Global Health, Empowerment and Rights (HER) Act that would permanently repeal the policy.

“International health care organizations already cover abortion services on their own dime — and have for decades.

The Global Gag Rule withholds vital federal funding from these organizations if they provide even the most basic information about abortion as part of their family planning services. In essence, if they so much as mention abortion, they lose funding. This forces clinics to choose between providing limited health care with critical U.S. funding, or trying to provide comprehensive health care on a limited budget.

This is a tremendous blow to the ability of women everywhere to access fundamental health care. The HER Act would permanently repeal this uninformed and harmful policy.” – Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR)

Although supporters of the global gag rule promote it as a way to “make abortion more rare,” studies on its effects in some of the poorest nations in the world actually suggest the opposite. In years when the policy was previously in place, the number of abortions performed in developing countries actually increased.

“Limiting access to reproductive health care and restricting the ability of independent organizations overseas to provide even basic information to women about their health is another Republican attack in the ongoing war against women’s health and rights. The president’s decision to reinstate and expand the Global Gag Rule will only harm women around the world who now benefit from affordable and accessible family planning services.

That’s why I cosponsored legislation to permanently repeal the “Global Gag Rule” and ensure that organizations helping women worldwide do not have to choose between providing comprehensive health services to women and accepting aid from the United States. It is long past time for Global Gag Rule to be permanently stricken from the books to allow women across the globe access to the critical care they deserve.” – Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR)

The Global HER Act is led by Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Susan Collins (R-ME) and is co-sponsored by dozens of bipartisan legislators.

“I am proud to have bipartisan support for my legislation to repeal the Global Gag Rule for good. We know that the way to decrease unplanned pregnancies and abortions is to make birth control and family planning services accessible and affordable, not micromanage the type of medical information and reproductive health counseling that women around the world receive.” – Sen. Jeanne Shaheen