Leading Global Jewish Human Rights Group Applauds President Biden’s Action to Revoke the Global Gag Rule

American Jewish World Service (AJWS) Urges the Biden-Harris administration to take additional steps to support reproductive and sexual health and rights worldwide

In response to President Biden’s rescission of the global gag rule, Memorandum on Protecting Women’s Health at Home and Abroad, Rori Kramer, Director of U.S. Advocacy at American Jewish World Service, issued the following statement:

“We praise President Biden’s action today to rescind the global gag rule as a necessary step to restore access to sexual and reproductive health and rights for women, girls, LGBTQI+ people, and sex workers around the globe. For the past four years, our grantee partners have been subject to the harms of the gag rule, a draconian policy that has prohibited any foreign organization receiving U.S. global health funding from providing legal and safe abortions or referrals for those services. The policy has also stifled organizations that seek to advocate for abortion reform in their own country. The global gag rule shuttered clinics, disrupted global health services, and endangered the lives of the most marginalized people, including women, girls, LGBTQI+ individuals, and sex workers.

“We welcome this U.S. action to return to the basic respect of human rights and access to health services. The timing for this action is also critical, as the world continues to fight a devastating global pandemic that has only increased barriers to health care, cutting individuals off from the medical attention they need. The global gag rule added unnecessary, life-threatening and immoral roadblocks in the way of access to health care. As a faith-based organization that believes in the dignity of all people, we contend that comprehensive access to sexual and reproductive health and rights, including abortion, is a human right.

“We applaud, President Biden for rejecting the Trump administration’s anti-abortion and anti-LGBTQI+ Geneva Consensus Declaration and recommitting the U.S.  to funding the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), actions which realign the U.S. with global support for sexual and reproductive health and rights. We welcome these essential steps.

“Yet after the last four years of damaging policies under the previous administration, the Biden-Harris administration must make certain that access to abortion is a human right worldwide. We urge the Biden-Harris administration to go further than any previous administration in not only undoing the harmful policies they inherited, but to ensure that sexual and reproductive health and rights are core to U.S foreign policy and human rights work. We call on the United States agencies to swiftly implement this executive action and widely communicate these changes to ensure U.S. programming supports equity and rights.

“However, executive action alone is not enough to address the tremendous damages of this policy. Congress must act quickly to introduce and pass two pieces of legislation to help secure access to sexual and reproductive health and rights. First, to prevent the global gag rule from ever being put in place by another administration again, Congress must permanently repeal this policy through the Global Health, Empowerment, and Rights (Global HER) Act. Second, we call on Congress, with full support from the administration, to pass legislation that would permanently repeal the Helms amendment. This longstanding policy, even with the rescission of the global gag rule, prevents any U.S. funds from supporting abortion care, thwarting individuals across the world from accessing this vital service.

“As we celebrate this important first step toward justice for everyone who needs comprehensive health care, we know that our work is not yet complete. AJWS is a proud member of the Blueprint for Sexual and Reproductive Health, Rights, and Justice, a coalition of more than 90 organizations who have developed a visionary policy agenda to promote sexual and reproductive health and rights for individuals at home and abroad. We urge the Biden-Harris administration to pursue all proactive sexual and reproductive health policies contained within the Blueprint for Sexual and Reproductive Health, Rights and Justice in order to truly transform the lives of individuals, including strong funding for sexual and reproductive health programs and removing religious that allow for discrimination against women, girls, and LGBTQI+ people.  As the leading global Jewish human rights organization, we look forward to working with the Biden-Harris administration to achieve this vision.”

If you are a member of the press and wish to obtain information about our work or speak to a member of our global team on deadline, please contact Madeline Cohen at mcohen@ajws.org during AJWS office hours from 9 am to 5 pm eastern time, Monday through Thursday. If you are on an urgent deadline on a Friday, over a weekend or during evening hours, please write Stuart Schear at sschear@ajws.org.