Representative Nita Lowey

Representing the 17th District of New York

Lowey Introduces HER Act to Permanently Repeal Global Gag Rule

January 24, 2017
Press Release

129 Cosponsors in House Demand Effective Foreign Aid Policy That Stops Attack on Vulnerable Women

Washington, DC – Congresswoman Nita M. Lowey (D-Rockland/Westchester, Ranking Member of the State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee, today introduced the Global Health, Empowerment, and Rights (HER) Act, which would permanently repeal the ill-conceived, anti-woman Global Gag Rule, in response to President Donald Trump’s executive order reinstating the policy.

“President Trump said he would put ‘America First’ in his Inaugural Address. He can’t do that by marginalizing women around the world,” said Lowey. “Reinstating the dangerous and arbitrary Global Gag Rule is an especially outrageous assault on women. It has not decreased the rate of abortions and unwanted pregnancies under previous Republican Administrations.  In fact, its severe limits on access to family planning services will dramatically erode progress on maternal and child health, and the policy will weaken the effectiveness of our foreign assistance by making ineligible some of the most capable and effective international partners.”

The ill-conceived Global Gag rule, first introduced in 1984 by the Reagan Administration, forces health providers eligible for U.S. assistance to choose between receiving U.S. funding or providing comprehensive health care services to their patients.

The Global Gag Rule contradicts our country’s founding principles.  It silences freedom of speech, interferes with the doctor-patient relationship, and weakens the effectiveness of U.S. foreign assistance. When last in place, the Global Gag Rule not only decreased access to family planning services, it cut off access to some of the most capable and respected basic health service providers, sometimes the only providers serving vulnerable populations in remote regions.

Congresswoman Lowey believes that instead of making it more difficult for women to access quality care, U.S. foreign assistance initiatives should support programs that help women and their partners ensure their health and the health of their families.  That is why she will introduce legislation to permanently repeal the ill-conceived Global Gag Rule and counteract President Trump’s Executive Order.  The HER Act, which will be introduced in the U.S. Senate by Senator Jeanne Shaheen, would:

  • Ensure that eligible foreign NGOs can continue to operate U.S.-supported health programs abroad, particularly those that provide legal health services to women -- including counseling, referral, and legal abortion services -- with their own, non-U.S. funds.
  • Guarantee that foreign NGOs will not be forced to sacrifice their right to free speech in order to participate in U.S.-supported programs abroad.
  • Help expand access to health programs for women around the world to improve health and development outcomes for entire families, communities, and developing countries. 

“Women around the world deserve the ability to make healthy choices for themselves and their families,” said Lowey. “Congress should put aside politics and support full and consistent access to family planning and reproductive health services by supporting the Global HER Act.”

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