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Global Gag Rule

The Global Gag Rule, also known as the Mexico City policy, prohibits international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that receive U.S. government funds from using their own private funds to perform or provide abortions, lobby their own government for a change in abortion laws, conduct public education campaigns about abortion, refer women to safe abortion providers, or even provide medically accurate counseling about abortion to their clients.

President Bush reimposed this punitive policy on January 22, 2001, his first business day in office - and, not coincidentally, the 28th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision. Even in countries where abortion is legal, NGOs will lose their U.S. funding if they use their own funds to: provide abortions even when the woman's health is endangered; conduct public education campaigns about abortion; or refer women to health clinics where they can obtain safe, legal abortions.

U.S. Law Already Prohibits American Funds from Paying for Abortions

Anti-choice politicians are being disingenuous when they claim the Global Gag Rule bars the U.S. from funding abortions overseas. In fact, for thirty years United States law has precluded American funds from being used to provide abortions. What the Global Gag Rule does prohibit is the ability of NGOs to provide the family planning and health care services that prevent unwanted pregnancies and save women's lives.

Restricting Access to Care Puts Women's Health in Jeopardy

An estimated 68,000 women worldwide die each year from unsafe abortions.1 It is estimated that 4 million African women undergo unsafe abortions each year, risking injury, infertility - even death. In many countries, foreign NGOs are the only health care providers in rural areas. The Global Gag Rule reduces women's access to lifesaving reproductive health care by penalizing the organizations committed to providing that care.

The Global Gag Rule Inhibits Progress in Less Developed Countries

In countries where women's reproductive rights are curtailed or nonexistent, maternal mortality and morbidity rates are nearly always at or above the world's average. Groups operating in these countries are precluded from advocating decriminalization of abortion as a solution to the problems of self-induced or illegal abortion. In 18 of the 56 countries where the majority of United States development funding goes, abortion is legal without restriction. Because of the Global Gag Rule, groups operating in these countries are prevented from providing their clients with full and accurate information about pregnancy options.

NAF applauds the efforts of pro-family planning Members of Congress to repeal this dangerous and deceptive policy, and urges Congress to protect the rights and health of women around the world.


  1. The World Health Report 2005 - Make every mother and child count. Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization, 2005.

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