‘Gag Rule’ Must Never Be Repeated, International AIDS Society Tells US Gov
The International AIDS Society urged the Biden administration “to consider legislation preventing the global gag rule from returning in the future”.

The International AIDS Society (IAS) has welcomed US President Joe Biden’s repeal of the Mexico City Policy, known as the global “gag rule”, which prevented non-US organisations from getting US aid if they offered abortion services, referrals or advocacy.

But the IAS urged the US administration “to consider legislation preventing the global gag rule from returning in the future”, according to its president, Adeeba Kamarulzaman.

The gag rule was first introduced by Ronald Reagan to prevent US government aid to foreign family planning organisations offering abortions. The Trump administration expanded it significantly to block any foreign NGO associated with abortion from receiving health development funds from any US source.

The rule affected almost $9 billion of US aid, and had a severe impact on organisations offering HIV services, disrupting HIV testing, counselling, condom provision, antiretroviral  treatment and care.

“As HIV professionals, we saw firsthand the impact of the global gag rule from its first iteration – barring and disrupting access to health care for women around the world,” said IAS Executive Director Birgit Poniatowski.

“In its expanded form, the policy threatened to roll back progress in the global HIV response.”

Echoing the IAS call, Ugandan health activist Dorothy Amuron from the Center for Health, Human Rights and Development called on the Biden administration “to take bold action to stop this deadly cycle of granting or rescinding human rights when the political tides shift”.

“The U.S. has an obligation to safeguard human rights for all. But policies like the global gag rule are an attack on our sovereignty and our humanity,” said Amuron. “We call on the Biden administration to use its power to get rid of them forever.”

Ironically, the gag rule was associated with a 40% increase in the rate of abortion and a 13.5% reduction in the use of contraception, according to research published in the Lancet.

Image Credits: Mike Beaty/Flickr.

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