CHANGE Reacts to Second State Department Review of Trump’s Expansion of the Global Gag Rule

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 18, 2020

CONTACT: Madison Donzis | [email protected]

Global Health Experts React to Second State Department Review of Trump’s Expansion of the Global Gag Rule, Impacts on People Seeking Sexual & Reproductive Health Care Abroad

Earlier today, the Department of State published the Review of the Implementation of the Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance Policy,” issuing findings around the implementation efforts and impacts of one particular U.S. global health assistance policy: the expanded Global Gag Rule under the Trump administration.

Bergen Cooper, Director of Policy Research at CHANGE (the Center for Health & Gender Equity), issued the following in response to the report:

“Women and girls deserve access to basic health care, including sexual and reproductive health care—no matter where they live.

“Today, the Department of State released its long overdue and incomplete second review of the Global Gag Rule, admitting what researchers have known since the policy was first implemented in 1984--the Global Gag Rule negatively impacts the delivery of essential healthcare around the world and when the U.S. government cuts off funding to trusted partners in-country, there are often times when no other organization is capable and able to step in.  In this review, the government admits that their policy has halted family planning programs, integrated health programming, and even nutrition programming. Even a gracious reading of the methodology suggests that data collection ended over a year ago—leaving us with wildly out-of-date records. The government also admits that the policy goes beyond harming the general population, and has placed an undue burden on key populations.

“CHANGE and other researchers around the world have known this for years. We have told the government. We have told the public through peer-reviewed journal articles, scoping reviews, research reports, policy briefs, fact sheets, webinars, and numerous other fora.

“While we are pleased to see the government finally admit that a policy that has been harmful since 1984 continues to inflict harm on the health of people around the world, this review is incomplete and gets some of the data wrong. For example, the Department of State claims that USAID successfully transitioned a prime partner’s award to another prime partner in Zimbabwe to continue vital HIV prevention services for adolescent girls and young women in 2017. In 2018, I met that prime partner. I met their sub-prime partner. I met the adolescent girls and young women who were being served by that sub-prime partner. Four months after the sub-prime lost funding due to the Global Gag Rule, these beneficiaries told me that their program remained inactive. CHANGE documented this extensive delay in services for adolescent girls and young women in the June 2018 report entitled: Prescribing Chaos in Global Health: The Global Gag Rule from 1984-2018.

“The Trump administration’s expansion of the Global Gag Rule directly contributes to setbacks in health care across all populations, including in marginalized and criminalized communities, and has significantly hindered HIV and AIDS services, voluntary family planning/reproductive health, tuberculosis, and nutrition programming, and has disrupted almost every health care delivery service supported by U.S. global health assistance funding.

“Our health policies should be evidence-based, and advance the health and wellbeing of people all over the world. But the Trump administration insists on using policies like the expanded Global Gag Rule to prioritize power and control over best public health practices for the people who need it most, and to stifle progress on sexual and reproductive health and gender equality.”

Earlier this year, on the anniversary of Trump’s reinstatement of the Global Gag Rule, CHANGE launched a first-of-its-kind data sheet that outlines the over 40 unique and devastating impacts the policy has had on people all over the world over the past three years.

SEE CHANGE’S DATA SHEET HERE:  http://www.genderhealth.org/files/uploads/change/publications/GGR_Data_Sheet_F.pdf

The data sheet explains how the expansion of the Global Gag Rule has contributed to:

And this is just to name a few. The impact of the Global Gag Rule isn’t only rooted in inefficiencies, but in harming and in some cases shortening the lives of thousands of adolescent girls and young women around the world.

SEE CHANGE’S UPDATED POLICY & RESEARCH BRIEF FOR MORE: http://www.genderhealth.org/files/uploads/change/publications/GGR_Policy_and_Research_Brief_F.pdf

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CHANGE (the Center for Health and Gender Equity) is a U.S.-based nongovernmental organization that promotes sexual and reproductive health and rights as a means to achieve gender equality and empowerment of all women and girls, by shaping the public’s conversation, elevating women’s voices, and influencing U.S. and global policies. We are guided by our vision of a world that respects, protects, and honors sexual and reproductive rights for all. Our work is grounded in and driven by a human rights framework at the intersection of multiple sectors including women’s rights, human rights, family planning, maternal health, HIV and AIDS, and gender-based violence.

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