Thanks to President Obama, his vision for a world in which women’s health and lives are of critical importance to us all, and to the hard work of so many, the Global Gag Rule has been repealed today.
“Too many women die each day from complications caused by pregnancy, childbirth, or illegal abortion—complications that can and should be prevented.”
And so begins the press release from Physicians for Reproductive Choice and Health. Advocates, doctors, legislators and others are praising President Obama – not for an act of symbolic outreach to the reproductive health and rights community internationally but – for making real moves to improve women’s health and lives globally.
“This policy change will have an immediate, positive effect on women’s health,” noted Dr. Suzanne T. Poppema, board chair of Physicians for Reproductive Choice and Health. “Too many women die each day from complications caused by pregnancy, childbirth, or illegal abortion—complications that can and should be prevented. President Obama’s proclamation will help women around the globe get the medical care they need."
Congresswoman Nita Lowey of New York has worked for years to repeal the Global Gag Rule not only for its harmful effects on women’s health and lives but because it is rooted in censorship – plain and simple.
“Repealing the Global Gag Rule places American foreign policy on the side of free speech, of women’s health and of doctors and care providers, “ said Lowey. "Access to safe family planning services and information is a cornerstone for social stability, economic growth, and public health in the developing world."
Finally, the Center for Health and Gender Equity reminds us that while repealing the Global Gag Rule is an important first step in improving the health and lives of women around the world, we’ve got a long road ahead:
Around the world, more than 200 million women lack access to safe, effective contraception. The lack of access to contraception can lead to unsafe, often deadly abortions. According to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), some 74,000 women die each year from unsafe abortions. While the repeal of the Mexico City Policy is significant, increased funding for international family planning and other sexual and reproductive health services is also critical to ensuring effective U.S. foreign assistance.
"The repeal of this dangerous policy is one important step forward in restoring access to sexual and reproductive health services and promoting democracy abroad. However, U.S. investment in international family planning has declined by roughly 42% since 1995," [Serra] Sippel added. "The United States should take the next step in advancing the health and well-being of the world’s women and families by investing at least $1 billion in international family planning this year."