Leading Jewish Human Rights Group Urges Repeal of the Harmful Global Gag Rule 

American Jewish World Service (AJWS) elevates the voices of groups affected by the draconian rule in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean.   

Shari Turitz, Vice President for Programs at American Jewish World Service (AJWS), the leading global Jewish human rights organization, issued the following statement on the third anniversary of the global gag rule:

“Today, on the three-year anniversary of the imposition of the Trump administration’s global gag rule, American Jewish World Service (AJWS) demands an end to this draconian policy. The global gag rule denies U.S. global health funding to foreign organizations that provide legal and safe abortion services or referrals for those services. Moreover, the rule bars organizations receiving U.S. aid from advocating for abortion law reform in their own countries. This policy has put the health and lives of women, girls, LGBTQI people, sex workers and entire communities at risk across the globe.

Because of the global gag rule, healthcare providers have had to close their doors or change their services, cutting off healthcare access for the very people who need these services the most. This policy also has a chilling effect on organizations that previously supported sexual and reproductive health and rights, including legislative and legal advocacy around abortion access. Many of these organizations fear the loss of funding and avoid participating in activities that benefit women, girls, LGBTQI people and sex workers. This chilling effect tips the balance in favor of the proliferation of radical, right-wing religious advocates, bolstering myths and taboos about women, girls, LGBTQI people and sex workers in both the U.S. and abroad.

As a faith-based organization that recognizes the inherent dignity of all people, we stand in solidarity with women, girls, LGBTQI people and sex workers across the globe. We call upon the U.S. House and Senate to repeal the global gag rule for moral as well as policy reasons. We urge Congress to immediately pass the Global Health, Empowerment, and Rights Act (Global HER Act). We also encourage Congress to review other opportunities to repeal the global gag rule, including the appropriations process.

We also urge public, private and multilateral agencies as well as other governments to mitigate the harms of the global gag rule by rebuilding alternative funding sources for local civil society organizations and social movements. This will require flexible funding, capacity-building training for nonprofit groups that work with LGBTQI people, and supporting the advocacy opportunities for these groups at national, regional and international levels.

Tragically, the global gag rule is one of many manifestations of a global trend that seeks to restrict the fundamental freedom of individuals to make basic decisions about their own lives, further harming the people who have the least power. Sadly, the Trump administration has stoked reactionary religious sentiment and works with other governments and groups to oppose the basic tenets of human rights—especially sexual and reproductive health and rights.

Only by uniting in opposition to the global gag rule—as well as in opposition to other policies and rhetoric antithetical to human rights—can we build a more just and equitable world.”

To illustrate the impact of the global gag rule, we asked for a comments from Jade Maina, Executive Director of Trust for Indigenous Culture and Health (TICAH), Kenya:

“In my country abortion services are not stand-alone services. I have witnessed health facilities shut down because of the global gag rule. When facilities close, they do not just affect abortion services, but all health services including HIV, TB and Malaria, thereby affecting whole communities that now have to travel longer to access health services and sometimes, they just do not make it. The chilling effect of the global gag rule takes effect immediately after the rule is signed. It takes much longer to undo when the rule is rescinded. They undid the work that civil society organizations in Kenya had been working on, building cross-movement coalitions by pushing organizations back into silos addressing single issues, undoing the great efforts coming from organized strategic coalition building and action.”

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