FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE— January 23 2017
[NEW YORK] – Today, Mr. Trump reinstated the Global Gag Rule, an executive policy that extends Congressional abortion restrictions on foreign assistance by barring US foreign aid from going to any foreign organization that performs or provides information about abortions as a method of family planning.
“Just one day after the 44th anniversary of Roe vs. Wade and two days after the largest women’s march in history, Mr. Trump has demonstrated his commitment to dismantling women’s rights around the world,” says Janet Benshoof, president of the Global Justice Center. “We now know the Trump Administration’s sexist and misogynist rhetoric will be put into effect immediately, with deadly consequences for women here at home and around the world.”
Under international law, abortion is protected medical care for women, the denial of which can constitute violations of women’s rights to be free from gender-based discrimination, free from torture, cruel and inhuman treatment and rights to life and health. By imposing restrictions on abortion access in the US and abroad, the US is violating women’s human rights.
Since 1971 the Helms Amendment has barred any US foreign aid from being used to perform or provide information about abortion. These restrictions apply to all US aid, including humanitarian aid to women and girls raped in war, which violates their rights to necessary medical care under the Geneva Conventions. The reinstatement of the Global Gag Rule, which extends the reach Helms by limiting what foreign organizations receiving US family planning funds, can do with their non-US funds and censors even the information and counseling that women can receive, is sure to increase the impact of the Helms Amendment.
US abortion restrictions on foreign assistance have become a matter of serious concern to our allies. In the past 5 years, countries and international entities including the UN and EU have recognized that abortion is protected medical care for girls and women raped in war. The European Parliament has gone as far as specifying in its budget that the EU’s humanitarian aid must be provided in accordance with international humanitarian law and not be subject to restrictions imposed by partner donors, such as the US. This amendment was put into effect to limit the restrictions of Helms but will also apply to the Gag Rule.
“The reinstatement of the Gag Rule will only serve to put the US further out of step with our allies,” says Benshoof. “These violations of women’s rights cannot stand. The EU has already put in safeguards to protect their humanitarian aid from US anti-choice restrictions. We will continue to work with the international community to limit the US’s ability to determine the medical care that women in places like Congo, Iraq and Burma can receive.”
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