Global Health Council Statement on Global Gag Rule – January 26, 2017

Statement made to the global health community by Global Health Council President & Executive Director Loyce Pace, MPH on January 26, 2017. 

On Monday, President Trump reinstated the Mexico City Policy (also known as the “Global Gag Rule”). The Global Gag Rule requires that, as a condition of receiving assistance from the U.S. government, foreign NGOs certify that they will not provide abortion services, counsel or refer for abortion, or advocate for the liberalization of abortion laws using non-U.S. funds. U.S. NGOs are not directly subject to the Global Gag Rule, but they must ensure that any foreign NGO sub-recipients adhere to the policy.

It was anticipated that Trump would reinstate the Global Gag Rule in the first few days of his term, but the larger question had been how the new administration would choose to interpret or expand the rule. The presidential memorandum went further than previous interpretations to direct the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Health and Human Services (through CDC programs) “to implement a plan to extend the requirements of the reinstated Memorandum to global health assistance furnished by all departments and agencies.”

While at this time there is not more information from the administration on the directive and how agencies will be expected to implement it, the memorandum expands the Global Gag Rule to include not just family planning assistance but all U.S. global health funding, including maternal and child health, nutrition, HIV/AIDS (including PEPFAR), malaria, tuberculosis, infectious diseases, and neglected tropical diseases. It is unclear if the directive will expand the definition of foreign NGOs to include multilateral organizations.

In its most recent Washington Memo, PAI provides an analysis of the impact of this expanded directive. In addition, the Kaiser Family Foundation has released a Mexico City Policy Explainer.

The International Family Planning Coalition (IFPC), a group of organizations that share a common interest in U.S. international family planning and reproductive health funding and policies, is monitoring the situation and providing additional analysis, as warranted. Global Health Council (GHC) will continue to engage with the IFPC and ensure that updates are shared with our membership as they become available. As we learn more about how this directive will affect our community, we will convene a stakeholder meeting to discuss the implications and impact.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us at advocacy@globalhealth.org.