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WASHINGTON, November 16, 2020 — The public comment period on a Trump administration proposed rule that would expand the devastating global gag rule closed on Friday, but not before thousands took the opportunity to speak out against it. In September — despite multiple studies finding that the global gag rule disrupts access to critical health care around the world, and as COVID-19 continues to claim lives across the globe — the Trump administration published a proposed rule seeking to expand the policy. The “Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance” proposed rule would broaden the global gag rule to apply to global health contracts, newly impacting over 250 contracts and as much as 40% of global health assistance.

Given the overwhelming public opposition to the rule and the immense harm it would cause across the world, Planned Parenthood Global is calling on the Trump administration to decline to finalize the rule in the waning days of its tenure.

Statement from Monica Kerrigan, Executive Director, Planned Parenthood Global:

“The outgoing Trump administration should listen to people in the U.S. and around the world and not expand this devastating policy during a rising global pandemic. The global gag rule was among the first of many attacks this administration launched against health and human rights. Study after study — including from the State Department — has demonstrated that this neocolonialist policy inflicted a crushing blow to health care access for people around the world, especially those who already face systemic barriers to care. The people hit hardest by the global gag rule are women and girls, young people, and LGBTQ+ people. This expansion must not happen.”

Since 2017, the global gag rule has prohibited foreign non-governmental organizations from receiving any U.S. global health assistance if they provide information, referrals, or services for legal abortion or advocate for the legalization of abortion in their country, even if these activities are supported solely with non-U.S. funds. Because of the global gag rule, marginalized communities — including women and girls, young people, and LGBTQ+ people — have experienced the most devastating constraints on services. They are also disproportionately affected by the pandemic. They would only be further harmed by this proposed expansion. Recognizing the danger, over 6,000 people spoke up by submitting comments on the proposal. Champions in Congress also spoke out in large numbers — Sen. Jeanne Shaheen led a comment letter signed by 34 senators and Rep. Nita Lowey led a comment letter signed by more than 140 members of Congress. Congressional leadership is critical as only Congress can pass the Global Health, Empowerment, and Rights (HER) Act to permanently put an end to the global gag rule.

Ending the global and domestic gag rules is one of the first things the Biden administration must do upon taking office so that health care providers and patients can speak freely about all reproductive health care options. A coalition of bold, progressive organizations spoke to this need and more in “First Priorities for the Blueprint for Sexual and Reproductive Health, Rights, and Justice” — Planned Parenthood Action Fund and Planned Parenthood Global now expect the Biden administration to get to work immediately on this detailed list of executive and agency actions.Planned Parenthood Action Fund is an independent, nonpartisan, not-for-profit membership organization formed as the advocacy and political arm of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. The Action Fund engages in educational, advocacy and electoral activity, including grassroots organizing, legislative advocacy, and voter education.

For more than 45 years, Planned Parenthood Global has supported access to sexual and reproductive health care and advocated for reproductive rights around the world. In partnership with more than 100 organizations across 9 focus countries in Africa and Latin America, we advance the health and rights of young people, women and families, with an emphasis on the most vulnerable and underserved. Last year, our partners provided over 1.8 million people with sexual and reproductive health information and services. Our unique sustainability model sets us apart, as we empower partners to stand on their own. We help grassroots organizations develop solid reproductive health programs, identify other sources of funding, build their communications and advocacy skills, and develop strategic plans. Planned Parenthood Global is the international arm of Planned Parenthood Federation of America.