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Senator Shaheen Offers Amendment To Protect Family Planning Services Worldwide

Shaheen’s Amendment That Repeals Global Gag Rule Added to Foreign Operations Funding Bill

Yesterday, Senator Jeanne Shaheen’s amendment to boost funds for international family planning and reproductive health programs received bipartisan support and was added to the State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs annual appropriations bill that allocates federal dollars for programs directed by the US State Department.

“The global gag rule is a dangerous and ill-conceived policy that blocks millions of women and their families from receiving critical aid and assistance,” said Shaheen. “My amendment will preserve and restore funding levels for international organizations that help to prevent over fifty million unintended pregnancies around the world, and reduce the number of maternal deaths we see from those accessing unsafe abortions when the lack of family planning leaves them without options. I’m very pleased that this amendment was approved on a bipartisan basis and hope that Congress can continue to make progress to repeal this disastrous policy.”

Senator Shaheen’s amendment repeals the global gag rule, also known as the Mexico City Policy. The Mexico City Policy bans federal dollars from supporting foreign non-governmental groups that provide the full scope of family planning and maternal health services that include information about and referrals for abortions, even if these activities are funded with their own, non-US funds. By law, federal dollars are already prohibited from supporting abortions, however the Mexico City Policy goes further by banning foreign non-governmental organizations from providing information on or referrals for abortion services as part of delivering comprehensive women’s healthcare. This includes a prohibition on care and counseling for those harmed by abortions. Senator Shaheen’s amendment allows these non-governmental groups to provide family planning services, preserves previous levels of funding for USAID family planning programs, and restores the United States’ contribution to the United Nations Population Fund to 2017 funding levels.

“Protecting family planning and evidenced-based sex education is common sense,” said Jennifer Frizzell, Vice President of Public Policy, Planned Parenthood of Northern New England. “We have seen that the Trump administration is determined to attack women’s health and rights daily. Champions like Senator Jeanne Shaheen in Congress are doing the work to protect access to the care that Americans, and women across the world, rely on. Despite efforts of anti-women’s health politicians to cut family planning, the bill passed by the committee yesterday protects Title X — the nation’s only federal program for birth control that 4 million women count on each year  —  and Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program that provides young people the tools to plan for their futures. The bill safeguards the programs to ensure that people’s access to these essential programs remains uninterrupted.

“In the meantime, the State and Foreign Operations bill was approved with a bipartisan amendment to restore funding for international family planning, including UNFPA, and end the dangerous “global gag rule” that was expanded by the Trump administration. Senator Jeanne Shaheen has tirelessly fought to protect women’s health and rights since her days as a legislator in New Hampshire. We applaud Senator Shaheen for leading the charge to restore these crucial U.S. investments in family planning and women’s access to healthcare, and are grateful to Senators Collins and Murkowski for supporting the amendment,” Frizzell concluded.

Senator Shaheen is a leader on women’s reproductive rights and has been advocating to repeal the global gag rule since President Trump reinstated it through an executive order in January. She led a bipartisan group of Senators and introduced the Global HER Act to repeal the dangerous policy and ensure international organizations are able to provide women around the world with the necessary care they need. Senator Shaheen serves on the Appropriation’s Subcommittee on the State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs and is also the only woman on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

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