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Conscience Magazine

President Biden Repeals US Global Gag Rule on Abortion Funding

May 4, 2021

AFTER FOUR YEARS OF damage to reproductive rights and health care access across the globe by Donald Trump’s reinstatement of the Mexico City Policy, U.S. President Joe Biden on January 29 rescinded the policy, also called the Global Gag Rule. Called the Mexico City Policy due to the location of its drafting in 1985, the rule has moved into and out of effect as Republican and Democratic presidencies took over since the Reagan administration, curtailing funding for reproductive health measures across the globe in every instance of its enactment.

The Global Gag Rule— modeled on the 1973 Helms amendment—prohibits the provision of abortion services or counseling for international organizations that receive U.S. health aid, even when those organizations deploy money not received from the U.S. to secure abortion care abroad. Under the Trump administration, the Mexico City Policy was expanded to apply these standards to all global health, not just funds aimed at family planning.

In the wake of Biden’s repeal, pro-choice activists are optimistic that some of the damage of the last four years, while it cannot be undone, will be prevented. However, many in the reproductive rights sphere are pressing for the incoming administration to actively support both the Abortion is Health Care Everywhere Act and the Global Health Empowerment and Rights Act (Global HER). The former would repeal the Helms amendment; the latter would prohibit the reinstitution of the Mexico City Policy under future U.S. presidents.

As only the second Catholic president in American history, Biden is the first to oppose hierarchical church dogma on the teaching on abortion, and to support global funding in ensuring abortion access across the globe.

Tagged Abortion