Letter: ‘Global gag rule’ endangers

Published: 5/6/2018 12:01:18 AM

One of Donald Trump’s first acts as president was to restore the “global gag rule,” which was rescinded by President Barack Obama. This is yet another example of the administration allowing political ideology to trump science.

In 2003, Amy Coen, president of Population Action International, wrote “the policy shows no respect for scientific evidence and proven public health practices, and no compassion for the millions of women around the world engaged in a daily struggle for existence.”

The rule cuts off millions of dollars from hundreds of organizations that provide vital family planning services worldwide. The global gag rule has also caused health clinics to close and contraceptive shortages, and jeopardizes HIV prevention efforts.

The reported goal of the global gag rule was to reduce the number of abortions, but it has in fact increased the number of abortions.

In January 2017, Congresswoman Nita M. Lowey and 129 co-sponsors, including Carol Shea-Porter, submitted a bill to permanently repeal the global gag rule (the “HER Act”) to ensure that clinics are free to consult women about family planning and receive funding to provide access for reproductive health care.

Autonomy for reproductive planning and health care are essential to women’s economic empowerment and gender equality. The effectiveness of public health policies like the global gag rule should be evaluated through science- and evidence-based approaches that are non-ideological and nonpartisan.

I am hopeful that the Lowey bill will be evaluated in terms of public health protection and passed to protect health care equity for women worldwide.

(Mindi Messmer, a Rye Democrat, is a state representative and candidate for the 1st Congressional District.)


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