• Press Release

EMILYs List Statement on Donald Trump Reinstating the Global Gag Rule

January 23, 2017

January 23, 2017

EMILYs List Statement on Donald Trump Reinstating the Global Gag Rule

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today President Donald Trump reinstated the Mexico City policy, also known as the global gag rule, which prohibits U.S. funding from going to nongovernmental organizations that offer or advise on a range of reproductive health services including abortion. The following is a statement by EMILYs List President Stephanie Schriock:

“President Trump used his first Monday on the job to start rolling back women’s rights and put women and families’ health at risk across the globe. Not only does the Mexico City policy infringe upon women’s basic rights to make informed decisions about their health care, it prevents organizations from even providing critical information to women and families about health care options. Reinstating this policy as one of his first actions in office sends a chilling message to women that Donald Trump and his administration have no interest in protecting women’s rights to make their own health care decisions and will take every opportunity to roll the clock back decades on women’s opportunity.”

“But if this Saturday showed us anything, it’s that women will hold President Trump and this Republican Congress accountable and that we are ready to stand up and fight for our rights here at home and abroad. EMILYs List will continue our work at the forefront of this movement by electing more pro-choice Democratic women to stop Trump and his party’s dangerous, anti-woman agenda.”



Since 1984, Republican Presidents Reagan and George W. Bush Have Been the Only Administrations to Institute the Global Gag Rule. “In 1984, President Ronald Reagan issued what has become known as the “Mexico City policy,” which required foreign non-governmental organizations receiving USAID family planning assistance to certify that they would not perform or actively promote abortion as a method of family planning, even if such activities were conducted with non-U.S. funds. The policy was rescinded by President Bill Clinton and reinstituted by President George W. Bush. It was rescinded by President Barack Obama in January 2009 and remains a controversial issue in U.S. foreign assistance.” [Congressional Research Service, 5/17/16]

The USA Has Given over $14 Billion over 50 Years to Worldwide Family Planning and Reproductive Health Efforts. “The U.S. government has provided financial and other support for international FP/RH efforts for 50 years and is one of the largest donors to FP/RH in the world; since 1965, the U.S has obligated approximately $14 billion to international FP/RH activities. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) serves as the lead agency for FP/RH, carrying out programs in nearly 40 countries, with a focused effort in 24 priority countries. USAID works to increase access to voluntary family planning information, commodities, and services, and is a core partner of FP2020 (see below). While most of its effort is focused specifically on family planning, USAID also supports some broader RH activities, including efforts to address child marriage, female genital mutilation, and gender based violence and the provision of post abortion care. Other U.S. agencies involved in international FP/RH efforts include the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (research, surveillance, technical assistance, and a designated WHO Collaborating Center for Reproductive Health), the Department of State (diplomatic and humanitarian efforts), the National Institutes of Health (NIH) (research), and the Peace Corps (volunteer activities). Additionally, USAID’s FP/RH efforts are closely linked to its maternal and child health (MCH) programs, although Congress directs funding to and USAID operates these programs separately. Recent years have also seen greater emphasis on coordinating FP investments with HIV efforts through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).” [Kaiser Family Foundation, 4/25/16]


One Study Found the Gag Rule Led to Termination of Critical Activities Reaching Out to Poor and Rural Communities and Curtailed Availability of Contraception. “After President George W. Bush reimposed the gag rule in 2001, a consortium of NGOs led by Population Action International organized a study to assess the policy’s effects. Between 2002 and 2006, the research teams made site visits to the Dominican Republic, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Nepal, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. They found that in Kenya, for example, the gag rule led to the termination of critical activities run by the Family Planning Association of Kenya and Marie Stopes International (MSI) Kenya—the leading providers of health care to people living in poor and rural communities in the country. In addition, enforcement of the policy drastically curtailed community-based outreach activities and the flow and availability of contraceptive supplies. Government clinics, exempt from the gag rule, were never able to pick up the slack nor regain the trust of women turned away by the NGOs.” [Guttmacher, 6/03/15]

  • 2015 Study: Ghana Saw an Increase in Unwanted Pregnancies – Twenty Percent of Which Ended in Abortion – after Family Planning Clinics Were Forced to Shut Down. “And a 2015 study from the International Food Policy Research Institute found that the Planned Parenthood Association of Ghana had to close and consolidate many clinics because of the policy, particularly in rural areas. As a result, there was an increase in unwanted pregnancies in Ghana — and one in five of those pregnancies ended in abortion.” [International Food Policy Reseach Institute via New York Magazine, 11/21/16]​
    • Planned Parenthood of Ghana Lost $200K in Funding in 2003 that Led to Staff and Nursing Reductions that Led to Reduction in Family Planning Use. “For example, the Planned Parenthood Association of Ghana (PPAG), the country’s oldest and largest provider of reproductive health services, lost $200,000 in USAID funding in 2003 when they rejected the Gag Rule. As a result, PPAG laid off 67 key staff members and reduced nursing staff by 44 percent, leading to a 40 percent reduction in family planning use by those served by the organization. More than 1,327 communities in Ghana were affected by the cuts.” [PAI, accessed 1/23/16]
  • Two Leading Reproductive Health Care Providers in Kenya Lost U.S. Funding in 2001 and Were Forced to Close 15 Clinics in the Country. “Similarly, Marie Stopes Kenya and the Family Planning Association of Kenya (FPAK), the county’s two leading reproductive health providers, refused to comply in 2001 and lost all U.S. funding. The policy forced MSI Kenya to close two clinics in 2002 and the organization was only able to keep further clinics from closing by laying off staff. Unable to raise enough funds to replace the USAID money lost, FPAK closed 15 clinics between 2001 and 2005.” [Population Action International, accessed 1/23/16]
  • Example: Lesotho, a Country with a High Rate of HIV, Lost Access to Condoms. “The NGO investigators found that the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) had to cut off shipments of contraceptives—already in short supply—to 16 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and the Middle East. The Lesotho Planned Parenthood Association, for example, had received 426,000 condoms from USAID over two years during the Clinton administration. Once the gag rule went back into effect, USAID had to end condom shipments to Lesotho entirely because the association was the only available conduit for condoms in that country. At that time, one in four women in Lesotho was infected with HIV.” [Guttmacher, 6/03/15]


The Abortion Rate Is Higher in Countries Where Laws Restrict Access. “In reality, attempts to stop abortion through restrictive laws—or by withholding family planning aid—can never eliminate abortion, because those methods do not eliminate women’s need for abortion. The abortion rates in Africa and Latin America—regions where the procedure is mostly illegal—are 29 and 32 per 1,000 women of reproductive age, respectively; in contrast, the rate in Western Europe—where abortion is lawful on broad grounds—is 12 per 1,000.” [Guttmacher, 6/03/15]

  • A 2011 Stanford University Study Found the Gag Rule Actually Increased the Abortion Rate in Sub-Saharan Africa since Women Lost Access to Contraception. “During the years that the global gag rule was in effect, it resulted in dramatic drops in funding to organizations worldwide that provide necessary family-planning services and other health-care services and an increase in abortion. Indeed, a 2011 Stanford University study found that abortion rates more than doubled in African countries that were most reliant on U.S. family-planning aid during the years that policy was in place.” [NARAL, 1/01/16]

A Large Number of Abortions in the World’s Poorest Countries Are Unsafe. “The vast majority of abortions are sought by women in the world’s poorest countries, and most of those abortions—about 20 million—are unsafe (i.e., performed by an untrained person or in an environment that does not meet minimum medical standards, or both). According to the World Health Organization, unsafe abortion remains a leading cause of maternal death.” [Guttmacher, 6/03/15]

  • …Nearly 70K Women Die Each Year following Unsafe Abortion Procedures. “More than 95% of abortions in Africa and Latin America are performed under unsafe circumstances, as are about 60% of abortions in Asia. Almost 70,000 women die each year from complications following unsafe abortions, and thousands more suffer serious, permanent injuries.” [Guttmacher, 1/23/09]
  • USAID: Giving Women More Control of Their Reproductive Healthcare Could Prevent 25% of Maternal and Child Deaths. “Global estimates indicate that by helping women space births and avoid unintended pregnancies, family planning could prevent 25 percent of maternal and child deaths in the developing world.” [USAID, 1/26/09]

Providing Funding for USAID and UNFPA in 2015 Prevented Six Million Unintended Pregnancies. “Yet, the facts are that the current U.S. investment overseas in family planning and reproductive health of $610 million (including $35 million for UNFPA) is preventing 2.4 million abortions in fiscal year 2015 by averting six million unintended pregnancies.” [Guttmacher, 6/03/15]


EMILY’s List, the nation’s largest resource for women in politics, has raised over $500 million to support pro-choice Democratic women candidates – making them one of the most successful political organizations ever. Our grassroots community of over five million members helps Democratic women wage competitive campaigns – and win. We recruit and train candidates, support strong campaigns, research the issues that impact women and families, and turn out women voters. Since our founding in 1985, we have trained over 9,000 women to run and helped elect 116 women to the House, 23 to the Senate, 12 governors, and over 800 to state and local office. Forty percent of the candidates EMILY’s List has helped elect to Congress have been women of color – including every single Latina, African American, and Asian American Democratic congresswoman currently serving.