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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.

Senator Shaheen To Introduce Legislation To Permanently Repeal The “Global Gag Rule”

Today, newly inaugurated President Trump signed an executive order to reinstate the Global Gag Rule, also known as the Mexico City Policy. This policy bans federal funds for non-governmental organizations that provide abortion services or provide information about abortion as part of family planning services. 

“The so-called Mexico City policy, established by Republican President Ronald Reagan in 1984, blocks federal funding for international family planning charities that provide abortions or “promote” the procedure by providing patients with information about it, including by offering referrals to abortion providers,” wrote Jessie Hillmann for The Hill.

“Trump’s ban could impact foreign organizations like the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPFF), which provides family planning services in more than 180 countries,” Hillmann added.

Tomorrow, Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), the only woman on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, will introduce bipartisan legislation in the Senate that would permanently repeal the Global Gag Rule. 

“The Trump Administration and Republican leadership have made no secret of their dangerous obsession with rolling back reproductive rights,” said Senator Shaheen. “President Trump’s reinstatement of the Global Gag Rule ignores decades of research, instead favoring ideological politics over women and families. We know that when family planning services and contraceptives are easily accessible, there are fewer unplanned pregnancies, maternal deaths, and abortions. And when women have control over their reproductive health, it improves the long-term health of mothers and children and creates a lasting economic benefit. I will continue to stand up to President Trump and Republican leadership in Congress who are intent on rolling back women’s access to reproductive healthcare, and will introduce bipartisan legislation to repeal the Global Gag Rule for good.”

Senator Maggie Hassan, who took office less than a month ago, was unhappy to hear that President Trump was reinstating the Global Gag Rule and says she will support Shaheen’s legislation.

“A woman’s right to make her own health care decisions and control her own destiny is critical to the health and well-being of women around the world. I strongly oppose President Trump’s decision to re-institute a backward policy that will limit women’s access to reproductive health care and family planning services. This dangerous restriction on foreign aid to some of our world’s most vulnerable people is not consistent with our values as Americans. We cannot let efforts to roll back women’s rights go unchecked, and I will support Senator Shaheen’s legislation to permanently repeal the global gag rule.”

“I’m very disappointed that as one of his first actions as President, Donald Trump will be harming poor women and families in countries that can least afford it,” said Congresswoman Annie Kuster (D-NH01). “The Global Gag Rule severely limits the ability of international aid organizations to provide comprehensive reproductive healthcare to women around the world and poses a very real threat to our global progress on maternal and child health. The reinstatement of the Global Gag Rule is a clear signal that the Trump Administration does not respect women’s reproductive rights and health.”

This move comes the day after the 44th Anniversary of the landmark Roe v. Wade decision.  Both Shaheen and Hassan released statements affirming their support of Roe v. Wade and the ability of women to make their own reproductive healthcare decisions.

Senator Shaheen:

“Today’s anniversary of Roe v. Wade is a reminder of the progress we have made and challenges that women still face to access comprehensive reproductive health care,” said Senator Shaheen. “In this last year, the Supreme Court handed down an important decision reinforcing a woman’s right to make her own medical decisions, and we saw the abortion rate drop to the lowest level since 1943. This data is another reminder that when family planning services are accessible and contraceptives are affordable, we see a reduction in unplanned pregnancies and abortion. 

“Despite this progress, women’s reproductive healthcare remains under constant assault. States have continued to pass restrictions intended to shut down clinics and Republican leadership in Congress have already taken steps to defund Planned Parenthood, one of the nation’s leading providers of high-quality, affordable health care for women.” 

“A woman’s personal medical decisions are her own to make in consultation with her family and her doctor. I will continue to stand up against any and all political efforts to rollback women’s reproductive rights in our country.”

Senator Hassan:

“The anniversary of the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Roe v. Wade is a time to recommit ourselves to working to ensure that women can make their own health choices and chart their own destiny. On the heels of the remarkable Women’s Marches that mobilized millions of women across America yesterday, we must continue to speak up every day to protect our equal rights under the law.

“Protecting a woman’s right to make her own health care decisions and ensuring access to important health services – including critical primary and preventative health services provided at Planned Parenthood clinics across the nation – is essential to the economic vitality of our families, our communities and our nation.

“The efforts in Washington to repeal the Affordable Care Act, defund Planned Parenthood, and turn the clock back on reproductive freedoms undermine Granite Staters’ access to quality, affordable health care at providers they trust, and I will continue fighting any efforts that would force women to pay more for their health care or strip away their freedom to make their own health decisions.”

With known anti-abortion advocate, Vice President Mike Pence by his side, Trump began his assault on women’s reproductive rights.  It is obvious that this is only the first step by the Trump administration attempt to make abortion illegal and overturn Roe v. Wade.

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