FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - September 8, 2017
[NEW YORK, NY] – On Thursday, the Senate Appropriations Committee moved to reinstate funding for the United Nations Population Fund and overturn Trump’s reinstatement and expansion of the Global Gag Rule. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen from New Hampshire proposed an amendment to the 2018 State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill that would overturn Trump’s expanded version of the Gag Rule, reinstate US contributions to UNFPA and limit the power of any future president to reinstate the Gag Rule. The amendment was approved with the votes of two female republicans, Senator Collins from Maine and Senator Murkowski from Alaska, but still needs to pass the full senate to become law.
“For the past forty years the rights and lives of women and girls around the world have been used as a political football, changing with the whims of each new US administration. We commend Senator Sheehan for taking initiative to limit the effects of these inhuman policies,” says Janet Benshoof, president of the Global Justice Center. “Trump’s massive expansion of the Global Gag Rule and defunding of UNFPA were attempts to by this administration to turn their sexist and misogynist rhetoric into law. We applaud the Senate for taking a step towards standing up and saying no to these dangerous policies.”
Trump’s expanded version of the Global Gag applies not only to organizations that receive family planning funding but also to all organizations that receive any global health funds. This includes maternal health programs, including Zika and HIV/AIDS programming. 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 and its own obligations under international law. Furthermore, the defunding of UNFPA and instatement of the Global Gag Rule has received global condemnation, including from US allies, and has resulted in efforts like the Dutch-led “She Decides” initiative to counter their impact.
“The Senate just took a huge step in reaffirming women’s rights around the world,” says Benshoof. “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. Passage of these amendments is a starting point to put the US in step with its allies and in compliance with international law.”
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