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USA: Reproductive Rights Under Threat

Tuesday 23 March 2010, by siawi2 (Date first published: 23 March 2010).

Please see the email message below asking for support for repeal of the ‘Global gag rule in the US’ (please send endorsements to: jennifer.redner HTx no later than COB April 7). Attached is the letter to sign on, also pasted here:

The Honorable Nita Lowey
Chair, Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs
House Committee on Appropriations
2329 Rayburn H.O.B.
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Chairwoman Lowey:

On behalf of our organizations and our constituencies in the United States and around the world, we thank you for your commitment to achieving universal access to family planning and other reproductive health care. Your tireless work to ensure that American foreign policy recognizes the unique needs of women and to guarantee access to desperately needed reproductive health care is key to the progress that has been achieved. We are proud to stand with you now, as we have during the past two decades in debate after debate over the basic rights of women in the poorest parts of the world.

We are writing today to ask for your continued leadership by including language in the FY 2011 State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs Appropriations bill that would protect the free speech of organizations and enhance the provision of family planning services by prohibiting the imposition of the dangerous Global Gag Rule on family planning providers working overseas.

You are well aware about the harmful effects of the Global Gag Rule on family planning providers and, more importantly, the women who rely on these services. Now is the time to enact legislation that makes clear that no foreign health care provider can be disqualified from U.S. assistance simply because it provides a health care service with its own private funds that is legal both within its own country and here in the United States, or because it engages in political debate about abortion policy within its own country. You have long sponsored legislation entitled “The Global Democracy Promotion Act” that does just that. We encourage you to include it in the appropriations bill this year.

We were deeply gratified when President Obama lifted the policy within a week of assuming office and we are confident that his action will benefit thousands of women. However, the political ping-pong match of the policy being in effect, then not, then again, then not again and so on, creates even more burden on providers who have to juggle and change their programs to accommodate the political winds, rather than best public health practice. In some ways, it creates an inefficient use of resources – which is misguided. Indeed, reports from the field suggest there is now reluctance on the part of some U.S.-funded organizations to work with other family planning service providers who were unable to be funded during the Bush administration as a result of the gag rule. This reluctance is due to uncertainty as to whether those organizations will be able to continue to participate in a project over its full five-year period or will be forced to drop off the team if the gag rule were to be reinstated under a new administration. The concern about partnering with these affected groups will almost certainly intensify as the next election cycle approaches.

For far too long, the health and rights of women in the developing world have been treated by American policymakers as little more than a tool in a domestic political struggle. We look forward to working with you and your staff in the coming weeks and months to support this provision and to ensure its enactment into law. Thank you again for your long record of leadership on this critical issue.


Advocates for Youth

American Humanist Association


Center for Environment and Population (CEP)

Center for Health and Gender Equity

Center for Women Policy Studies

International Planned Parenthood Federation

International Women’s Health Coalition

NARAL Pro-Choice America

National Council of Jewish Women

National Partnership for Women & Families

Pathfinder International

Population Connection

Population Institute

Secular Coalition for America

Sexuality Information and Education Council of the U.S. (SIECUS)

United Methodist Church, General Board of Church & Society