WASHINGTON, DC — Today, U.S. Senator Bob Menendez, Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, joined Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Congresswoman Nita Lowey (NY-17), and colleagues in reintroduction of the Global Health, Empowerment, and Rights (HER) Act. The legislation would permanently repeal the harmful Global Gag Rule.

The Global Gag Rule, also known as the Mexico City Policy, is an executive order that bans federal funds for foreign non-governmental organizations that use non-U.S. funds to provide abortion services or provide information about abortion as part of comprehensive family planning services. This forces clinics to choose between providing limited reproductive health services while accepting U.S. foreign aid or providing inclusive family planning and reproductive health care with a limited budget. The ill-conceived policy was rescinded by the Obama administration, only to be reinstated and expanded under the Trump administration. Days after taking office in 2017, President Trump issued an executive order that significantly expanded the policy from previous administrations by applying the ban to every program that falls under global health assistance at the Department of State, USAID and the Department of Health and Human Services.

“The Global Gag Rule was disgraceful when President Obama rightly rescinded it, and became more reprehensible when President Trump not only reinstated it, but expanded its dangerous reach,” said Sen. Menendez. “We cannot allow this President’s divisive, ideological agenda to force international organizations that deliver critical health care services around the globe, to choose between their responsibility to patients and their need for funds.”

“The Global Gag Rule and the President’s decision to expand these restrictions have put the health and well-being of women and families around the world at risk, all for the sake of scoring political points,” said Senator Shaheen. “This shameful and dangerous policy undercuts the efforts of international organizations that deliver comprehensive health care to our most vulnerable populations, including services that reduce maternal deaths and abortions, provide HIV treatment and combat Zika. Tying the hands of clinics that rely on U.S. dollars and limiting the care they can offer compromises the health and safety of women and families in these communities. There is bipartisan support for the Global HER Act in Congress to reverse this ill-conceived and disastrous policy, and I urge Senate and House Leadership to move expeditiously on this legislation.”

“The Trump Administration’s expanded Global Gag Rule has diminished the effectiveness of U.S. foreign assistance, silenced medical professionals, and threatened the health of the world’s most vulnerable women at an unprecedented level,” said Congresswoman Lowey. “We cannot maintain U.S. moral leadership, promote American interests, and build effective relationships abroad by handicapping our most capable international partners and jeopardizing life-saving programs. With the dire consequences of the Administration’s expanded Global Gag Rule already being felt, permanent repeal of this vicious, anti-woman policy is more important now than ever before. Congress must act to advance the Global HER Act without delay.”

The Global HER Act would:

  • Ensure that eligible foreign NGOs can continue to operate U.S.-supported health programs abroad, particularly those that provide legal health services to women -- including counseling, referral, and legal abortion services -- with their own, non-U.S. funds;
  • Guarantee that foreign NGOs will not be forced to sacrifice their right to free speech in order to participate in U.S.-supported programs abroad;
  • Help expand access to health programs for women around the world to improve health and development outcomes for entire families, communities and developing countries.

The Global HER Act is also cosponsored by Senators Collins (R-ME), Murkowski (R-AK) Baldwin (D-WI), Blumenthal (D-CT), Booker (D-NJ), Brown (D-OH), Cantwell (D-WA), Cardin (D-MD), Carper (D-DE), Coons (D-DE), Duckworth (D-IL), Durbin (D-IL), Feinstein (D-CA), Gillibrand (D-NY), Harris (D-CA), Hassan (D-NH), Hirono (D-HI), Kaine (D-VA), King (I-ME), Klobuchar (D-MN), Leahy (D-VT), Markey (D-MA), Merkley (D-OR), Murphy (D-CT), Murray (D-WA), Peters (D-MI), Reed (D-RI), Schatz (D-HI), Stabenow (D-MI), Tester (D-MT), Udall (D-NM), Van Hollen (D-MD), Warren (D-MA), Whitehouse (D-RI), Wyden (D-OR), Cortez Masto (D-NV), Casey (D-PA), Smith (D-MN), Sinema (D-AZ), Rosen (D-NV), Warner (D-VA), Heinrich (D-NM), Sanders (I-VT) and Bennet (D-CO).

Text of the Global HER Act can be read here.