Three years ago, on January 22, 2001, his first day in office, George W Bush re-imposed Ronald Reagan’s Global Gag Rule’ on women worldwide. This policy restricts organisations that receive USAID funds for family planning programmes from using their own, non-US funds to provide legal abortion services, lobby their own governments for abortion law reform, or even provide accurate medical counselling or referrals regarding abortion.
Abortion Rights is currently petitioning to remove the Global Gag rule. Every signature counts.
The effect of the Global Gag Rule has been devastating on women worldwide. Family planning services have lost all their US funding. For instance, in Kenya, the two most prominent family planning providers closed clinics, scaled back services, cut nearly one-third of their staff, and raised fees.
We note that worldwide, there are 19 million unsafe abortions every year and 78,000 women die every year from unsafe abortion. Over 200 a day, this is the equivalent of one plane crashing every day of the year — a statistic that could be virtually eliminated by reform of the law and the provision of appropriate health information and services. Organisations that reject the Global Gag Rule are forced to turn away condoms and other contraceptives from the US, cut reproductive health services and raise fees.