Since 1973 and the passage of Roe v. Wade, the United States has imposed restrictions on how foreign aid money is spent when it comes to abortion. These restrictions directly impact health care providers by reducing the services and information they can give. In fact, the restrictions are so far-reaching that they also limit the activities of experts and advocates when it comes to defending abortion rights. As a result, the U.S.—a country that prides itself on its democratic ideals—is continually violating the free speech and association rights of health care providers and advocates around the world.1
How U.S. Abortion Restrictions Violate International Law
- Limit debate on issues of public interest and advocacy on human rights.
- Harm the democratic process of other countries by preventing the free and open discussion of abortion as a right and barring the discussion of legislative changes to make the right effective.
- Fail to provide sufficient clarity on which speech and activities remain allowed, creating a chilling effect on speech and activities that remain permissible.
- Do not pursue a legitimate aim such as national security or public health. The U.S. government itself does not see these restrictions as necessary to achieving a legitimate aim, as the Global Gag Rule is regularly removed and reinstated by U.S. presidents along party lines. In fact, the restrictions threaten women’s health by decreasing access to necessary health care services and increasing unsafe abortion rates.2