Statement from UN Foundation President & CEO Kathy Calvin on New Restrictions of U.S. Foreign Assistance to Limit Women’s Access to Health Care Globally
Washington, D.C. — January 23, 2017
Editor’s note: More information has become available since this statement was released on January 23. While many details of the Global Gag Rule policy are still unclear, it now appears to expand to other aspects of global health assistance in addition to family planning and reproductive health, potentially impacting U.S. funding for maternal and child health, nutrition, HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, infectious diseases, and neglected tropical diseases. The UN Foundation is deeply concerned about the Global Gag Rule, which may have devastating implications for millions of women and families.
United Nations Foundation President and CEO Kathy Calvin today issued the following statement on the imposition of the Mexico City Policy, also known as the Global Gag Rule, last enacted in 2001.
The policy, enacted again today through Executive action, prohibits foreign non-governmental organizations from receiving any U.S. foreign assistance for family planning if they provide information, referrals, or services for legal abortion or lobby for abortion. U.S. law already prohibits the use of U.S. foreign assistance to pay for abortion information and services as a method of family planning. Therefore, organizations that provide abortion information or services do so with non-U.S. government funding. The enactment of the Global Gag Rule means organizations that provide abortion information or services or lobby for abortion cannot receive any U.S. foreign assistance, even for their non-abortion work, including providing voluntary family planning services and reproductive health care. Calvin said:
“The United Nations Foundation does not support the Global Gag Rule, which jeopardizes the health and well-being of the world’s most vulnerable girls and women.
“This action will do more than change policy; it will make it more difficult for millions of girls and women to access the contraception and health care they need to determine their futures. When the policy was last enacted, health care clinics in many countries were forced to close and outreach services for the hardest to reach populations were eliminated, leaving many of the world’s poorest people without access to critical services, such as maternal and child health care, HIV testing and counseling, and contraceptives, including condoms. Without these life-saving services, more women and infants died due to pregnancy-related complications. In some countries, the Global Gag Rule led to increases in abortions as women had more unintended pregnancies.
“The Global Gag Rule also runs counter to long-standing bipartisan support in Congress and in the American public for U.S. leadership in providing voluntary family planning services to women and couples around the world who want it.
“U.S. funding for voluntary family planning programs globally has allowed girls to stay in school, pursue jobs, and have children if and when they are ready. It has helped to improve maternal and child health, decrease unintended pregnancies, lower HIV infection rates, and reduce poverty. Still, more than 225 million women worldwide who want to delay or avoid pregnancy are not using modern contraception and need our support.
“Now is the time to build on progress, not reverse it. The United Nations Foundation stands ready to work with the new U.S. Administration to continue America’s leadership in improving health around the world. Access to reproductive health care, including contraception, is a human right and enables girls and women to plan their lives, climb out of poverty, and achieve a more sustainable future.”
About the United Nations Foundation
The United Nations Foundation builds public-private partnerships to address the world’s most pressing problems, and broadens support for the United Nations through advocacy and public outreach. Through innovative campaigns and initiatives, the Foundation connects people, ideas, and resources to help the UN solve global problems. The Foundation was created in 1998 as a U.S. public charity by entrepreneur and philanthropist Ted Turner and now is supported by philanthropic, corporate, government, and individual donors. Learn more at: www.unfoundation.org.