US Election 2020: Biden win brings hope of Global Gag Rule repeal

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Frontline AIDS congratulates President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on winning the US election.

The Trump administration’s approach to global health has been disastrous, with harmful policies like the Mexico City Policy (widely referred to as the ‘Global Gag Rule’) impacting funding and services for some of the world’s most marginalised groups.

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 as one of his first acts in office, for the first time applying it to all organisations working across global health, including HIV.

Christine Stegling, Executive Director at Frontline AIDS, said:

“The Trump administration didn’t just reinstate the Global Gag Rule, but drastically expanded it to all non-US organisations working in global health, including HIV. Overnight, the US pivoted from being a driving force in the movement to prevent HIV and end AIDS, to blocking funds and undermining years of progress. For frontline HIV organisations, already grappling with falling funding and awareness, it was a hammer-blow at the worst possible time.

“For four years, our partners have seen the policy disrupt HIV programmes, outreach services and referrals for the most marginalised, and compromise access to HIV prevention, testing and treatment. With efforts to prevent HIV worldwide already on a knife-edge, another four years would be catastrophic.

“Every Democratic administration since Clinton has revoked the Gag Rule and we will be looking to the Biden administration to follow suit and reinvigorate the vital role the US plays in global health. This harmful policy has been used as a political football for too long and it’s time it was thrown out permanently.”

President-elect Biden has already indicated his administration will overturn the Global Gag Rule, and Frontline AIDS will be campaigning for the policy to be permanently repealed.

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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Global gag ruleMexico City policy