Post submitted by Andrea Levario, HRC senior public policy advocate
Yesterday, members on the Senate Appropriations Committee led by Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) delivered a strong bipartisan vote to repeal the “global gag rule,” and restore funding for international family planning as part of the FY2017 State, Foreign Operations funding bill. The Committee’s Democrats were joined by Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Mark Kirk (D-IL), and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) to pass the Shaheen amendment by a 17-13 vote. The funding measure now awaits action by the full Senate.
The global gag rule, in place since 1984 and also known as the Mexico City Policy, prevents federal funding to foreign organizations which use their own non-U.S. funds to provide abortion information, referrals, or services. The rule has impeded the efforts of health providers to speak freely in counseling their patients and to address the family planning needs of women throughout the world.
As the world health community wrestles with the growing spread of the Zika virus, it is vital that women are fully informed about the threat it poses and all their reproductive choices. The Shaheen amendment also provides funding to international family planning organizations so that those important conversations can occur.
Although lawmakers were successful in removing the global gag rule during the Committee markup, an amendment could be offered to reinstate the provision when the bill is considered by the full Senate. HRC is working closely with our coalition partners to defeat any such effort.