President Biden repeals ‘Global Gag Rule’

The White House Public Domain Textures

In a long-awaited move, US President Joe Biden has repealed the Trump administration's expanded 'Global Gag Rule'.

The Global Gag Rule is a US Executive Order that means any international organisation that provides or promotes abortion services – regardless of how those services are funded – is prohibited from receiving US Government funding. In January 2017, the policy was re-enacted and dramatically expanded by Trump, for the first time applying it to all organisations working across global health, including HIV.

Christine Stegling, Executive Director at Frontline AIDS, said :

“This is an important step towards reversing the Trump administration’s slash and burn approach to global health. However, it will take sustained effort to repair the damage the Global Gag Rule has caused.

“By not only reinstating the Global Gag Rule but dramatically expanding it to cover other areas of global health, Trump undermined decades of non-partisan US leadership on HIV. The expanded policy disrupted HIV programmes, outreach services and referrals for the most marginalised, and compromised access to HIV prevention, testing and treatment. It also produced a chilling effect across civil society, creating an environment of mistrust that undermined partnerships and weakened advocacy efforts.

“Before 2016, the US was a driving force in the movement to end AIDS worldwide, and we believe it can be again. The last four years have shown there is too much at stake for the Global Gag Rule to continue to be a switch that is flicked on and off at the whim of successive administrations. The Biden administration must seize this opportunity to push for a permanent repeal of the Gag Rule and protect the vital role the US plays in global health, no matter who occupies the White House.”

In 2019, Frontline AIDS published a policy report – Early Warning Signs – highlighting the harmful impact the Gag Rule was having on the HIV response for marginalised people in Cambodia and Malawi.

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