Commentary: Global gag rule “dangerous and cruel” policy

This year marks the sixth anniversary of President Bush’s reinstatement of the global gag rule, which stipulates organizations that receive U.S. family planning assistance cannot provide, counsel or refer abortion services, nor can they advocate for abortion legalization in their own countries, even if they do so with their own private funding.

In this country, voters sent a powerful message to the president when they elected 19 new pro-choice members to the House of Representatives and four new pro-choice senators in the November elections. Against this backdrop of domestic triumph, we can’t forget about women overseas whose lives continue to be threatened by this Reagan-era assault on international family planning services.

Since 2001, foreign reproductive health care organizations have been forced to either accept U.S. funds and agree to stipulations that jeopardize their patients’ health, or reject U.S. assistance and risk eliminating crucial services because of lack of funding. Due to the global gag rule, clinics have closed and contraceptives have become increasingly unavailable, diminishing access to vital services for some of the world’s most vulnerable and marginalized people.

The global gag rule has always been a dangerous and cruel policy, and there is no evidence to suggest it reduces the number of abortions worldwide. Instead, its adverse impact on women’s health and families has been clearly demonstrated. This harmful policy does not represent America at its best, nor does it represent the values we hold dear. President Bush ought to repeal this regulation immediately.

-Julie Miller is a freshman psychology and American sign language major and Northeastern Students for Choice secretary.

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