The Global Gag Rule, a harmful human rights violation


The Global Gag Rule (GGR) is harmful to women and families and violates human rights. Originally known as the “Mexico City Policy” because it was enacted by Ronald Reagan in 1984 at a conference in Mexico City, the policy is more commonly known as the Global Gag Rule because of how it silences NGOs and health care workers. Specifically, the original policy dictated that no USAID family planning funds could be awarded to organizations that performed or promoted abortion and therefore prohibited them from even speaking about abortion.

The GGR is highly partisan- every Democrat president since Reagan has rescinded the policy and every Republican has reinstated it. The current administration, however, has not only reinstated the GGR but has dramatically expanded the funds that are affected.

Reagan’s version applied to USAID family planning funds; G.W. Bush’s version limited the GGR by exempting USAID HIV/AIDs related work. The latest iteration, however, greatly expands the affected funds to cover all foreign aid arising from any agency or department. The current version restricts up to $9.5 billion in aid, or 16x the amount of funds that would have been affected by previous versions.

Worse yet, beyond being a clear example of religious overreach in US politics and a violation of human rights, evidence suggests that the policy reduces sex education and contraception use while increasing both abortions and the proportion of abortions that result in health complications- maternal, family, and child health all suffer. There is a large coalition of organizations that oppose the GGR. You can take action today by learning more information about the GGR and volunteering or donating to organizations like IPPF, PAI, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation who, together with UN member countries, are attempting to counteract the extreme funding deficit.


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2 Responses to “The Global Gag Rule, a harmful human rights violation”

  1. hannahhhan Says:

    It is very sad to hear that the GGR is restricting more aids, affecting a variety of important health services that are designed to improve the maternal and child health around the world. Abortion is such a controversial issue. Personally, I think abortion should be individuals’ personal choice. Raising a child requires a lot of responsibilities; thus it should be taken very seriously. Furthermore, in cases of rape or incest, it is important to consider the victim’s physical and mental well-being before prohibiting her from having an abortion.

    In many areas where child marriage is a big concern, implementing family planning programs is imperative as they reduce maternal and child mortality through various services that address poverty, gender inequality, HIV/AIDS epidemic in these areas. As noted in the blog, many international organizations lost U.S.-donated contraceptives due to the GGR, which hindered their ability to reduce maternal deaths by “delaying motherhood, avoid unintended pregnancies and subsequent abortions” (

    I strongly agree with the authors in that that we need to take action to fight against the financial deficit caused by the GGR and support providing family planning services in various settings.

  2. reddaysblog Says:

    Yes, this is so unfortunate, and seems to run counter to the CEDAW (, PARTICULARLY THAT – “…any distinction, exclusion or restriction made on the basis of sex which has the effect or purpose of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise by women, irrespective of their marital status, on a basis of equality of men and women, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural, civil or any other field.”

    I think we also witnessed this in mass sterilizations in the U.S. during the 1970’s in different health sectors, many of which, state or federally controlled. Excellent piece/post, expert blogger!


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