President Biden repeals the Global Gag Rule after four long years, but funding won't be restored immediately.
Simon Cooke, CEO of MSI Reproductive Choices said:
“Four years ago, with one stroke of the presidential pen, Trump undid years of progress on global reproductive rights causing untold pain to millions of women and limiting their opportunities for the future. Today, we celebrate as Biden begins to right that wrong: revoking the Global Gag Rule and making the US once again a global force for good in family planning access.
“We have never and will never sign the Gag Rule because we know that safe abortion is a vital component of reproductive healthcare: agreeing to its conditions would mean turning our backs on the 35 million women each year who are so desperate to end their pregnancy that they will put their lives on the line with an unsafe abortion.
“For the entirety of Trump’s administration, this decision has reduced our donor income by USD $30 million a year: funding that had previously supported us to reach an estimated 2 million women with information and voluntary family planning services annually. Since 2017, generous partners have helped to protect these services and today we call on those women’s rights advocates not to falter at the last hurdle. As Biden and Harris enter office and this stop-gap funding subsides the future of reproductive healthcare is still hanging in the balance.
“Today marks the first step towards a brighter future but there is still a steep hill to climb and we call on partners who believe in a woman’s right to choose, not to let Trump’s policy out-live his presidency. Now more than ever we need new partnerships, continued support and continued funding, so we can reach women and girls with lifesaving services when and where they need them.”
Global Gag Rule Factbox
- Before the reinstatement of Trump’s Global Gag Rule, MSI worked in partnership with USAID across our mobile outreach and public sector strengthening channels, helping us to reach an estimated 2 million women with information and voluntary family planning services every year.
- These services prevented an estimated 1.5 million unintended pregnancies, 450,000 unsafe abortions and 5,000 maternal deaths annually. Many of these clients were women living in poverty and women living in remote, rural areas who had no other access to services.
- The Gag Rule was further expanded under Trump meaning compliant USAID grantees, could not enter into a contractual relationship with any non-compliant organisations unless they were willing to forgo their USAID funds also. This restricted partnerships and innovation by limiting the diversity of partnerships that other donors can invest in and destroyed integrated health services.
- We have never and will never sign the Gag Rule because we know that safe abortion is a vital part of reproductive healthcare. Agreeing to its conditions would mean turning our backs on the 35 million women each year who resort to unsafe abortion.
- There are also currently 218 million worldwide who want to access contraception but can’t get it. The Global Gag Rule has further limited contraceptive access and led to a rise in maternal deaths.
- But despite losing one of our most important partners, MSI’s work to improve equity in healthcare access has continued. Of the 28,000 clients our teams serve every day, 1 in 4 are living under $1.90, 43% are first-time contraception users, and 15% are under 20 years old.
- When the Global Gag Rule was reinstated, generous partners stepped up to plug the funding gap. Yet, as Biden and Harris enter office and this stop-gap funding subsides, MSI faces a $13.5 million funding shortfall. In real terms, this is the equivalent of 650,000 reproductive healthcare services delivered by our mobile outreach teams.
- Combined with the on-going COVID-19 pandemic, which resulted in 9 million fewer clients served between January and June 2020 than originally forecast for the same period, many MSI services still hang in the balance.
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