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President Bush Threatens to Veto Global Gag Rule

On September 6, 2007 an amendment to the 2008 fiscal year foreign aid appropriations bill repeals Global gag rule, passing by a vote of 53-41 in the Senate.  In June, the House of Representatives voted 223-201 for a similar amendment to the 2008 foreign aid appropriations bill in the House.

The Global Gag rule is found in the State-Foreign Appropriations bill and it places limitations on the services and information that foreign NGOs can provide if they accept U.S. financial aid.  The Global Gag rule was first passed during the Reagan administration in 1984.  President Clinton in 1993 rescinded it but in 2001 President W. Bush restored the rule with an Executive Order.

Specifically the Global Gag rule:

  • Prohibits foreign NGOS to use U.S. financial aid to provide legal abortions unless in a case of rape, incest or life endangerment;
  • Prohibits the ability of foreign NGOs to give information on what an abortion is and where a woman can get a legal one;
  • Prohibits the lobbying efforts of foreign NGOs to legalize abortion, oppose abortion restrictions and/or decriminalize abortion and
  • Prohibits foreign NGOs from organizing public awareness campaigns on abortion using U.S. aid OR their own private funds.

Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME) co-authored the amendment to the FY2008 foreign-aid bill.  However, the Senate also voted to approve Sen. Sam Brownback’s (R-KS) amendment that will allow President Bush, for the sixth year in a row, to rescind funding for the U.N. Population Fund family-planning program.

In the past six years, the global gag rule has created barriers to not only getting an abortion but also in receiving information to make an informed decision about the path of their reproductive health, clearly violating Latina’s human right to decide if and when to bear children under customary law.

Many Latinas in foreign countries rely upon NGOs to provide them with the reproductive health information and services that they need.  And because of the dire global economy that we are currently in, foreign NGOs also rely on foreign aid to maintain their facilities.  Therefore, the global gag rule does not give NGOs a choice in the services they can provide.

Over the years, the ripple effect of placing restrictions on funding is that many Latinas in foreign country do not know their reproductive and sexual rights and when they emigrate to the U.S. they continue to live under the belief that they do not have the legal right to have an abortion.

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