Development Health

IAS calls for legislation preventing the return of the global gag rule in the future

US President, Joe Biden

On 28 January 2021, US President Joseph R. Biden signed an executive order repealing the harmful U.S. Mexico City Policy, more commonly known as the global gag rule.

President Biden lifted these restrictions by signing the “Memorandum on Protecting Women’s Health at Home and Abroad.”

“IAS – the International AIDS Society – welcomes the end to the harmful global gag rule and urges the US administration to consider legislation preventing the global gag rule from returning in the future,” IAS President Adeeba Kamarulzaman said. “Ending HIV requires equitable access to information and services for women – and all people seeking care – not censorship.”

First put in place by President Ronald Reagan and reinstated in 2017 by President Donald Trump, the policy denied US foreign assistance to organizations that provide information, referrals or services related to legal abortion or advocate for abortion, even with their own money.

Past iterations of the policy applied solely to US family planning assistance. The most recent iteration was expanded to apply to almost all US global health bilateral assistance, including the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).

“As HIV professionals, we saw firsthand the impact of the global gag rule from its first iteration – barring and disrupting access to health care for women around the world. In its expanded form, the policy threatened to roll back progress in the global HIV response,” said IAS Executive Director Birgit Poniatowski.

IAS issued a previous statement sharing deep concerns over the repercussions of these increased restrictions and the threat they posed to the success of PEPFAR, the largest global HIV initiative. At the 22nd International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2018), IAS hosted a press conference featuring evidence and analysis of the far-reaching impact of the expanded policy, including its impact on PEPFAR recipients.

About the author

Byron Adonis Mutingwende