On Tuesday, March 26, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the White House intends to further expand the reach of its ban on global health funding to foreign non-governmental organizations that use their own funds to provide information on, offer referrals to, or conduct advocacy about abortion and/or abortion-related services, known as the “Global Gag Rule.” Secretary Pompeo announced that he would apply the rule “to the broadest extent possible,” while also announcing a cut to funding for the Organization of American States after the organization remarked on abortion decriminalization in Latin America.
This drastic expansion appears to bar any non-U.S. group that signs the global gag rule from using funding from other sources to support a partner that separately engages in abortion-related work, even if that partner receives no U.S. government global health assistance at all.
“Attacks on the health and rights of women with HIV around the world, including women living with HIV, have reached new lows under the Trump Administration,” said Asia Russell, Executive Director of Health GAP. “Congress should pass the Global HER Act and repeal the deadly Global Gag Rule once and for all.”
Contrary to Pompeo’s assertions during Tuesday’s press conference that such restrictions have not harmed access to HIV services under the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the U.S. bilateral global AIDS program, evidence from the last two years of Trump’s already drastically expanded Global Gag Rule has revealed substantial cuts to life-saving services. In Mozambique, for example, a country with one of the highest burdens of AIDS-related mortality in the world, at least 90 family planning clinics have closed since 2017 as a result of gag rule implementation, further undermining extremely poor access to essential treatment and prevention services in that country.
Health GAP is an international advocacy organization dedicated to ensuring that all people living with HIV have access to affordable life sustaining medicines. Our team pairs pragmatic policy work with audacious grassroots action to win equitable access to treatment, care and prevention for people living with and affected by HIV worldwide. We are dedicated to eliminating barriers to universal access to affordable life sustaining medicines for people living with HIV/AIDS as key to a comprehensive strategy to confront and ultimately stop the AIDS pandemic. We believe that the human right to life and to health must prevail over the pharmaceutical industry’s excessive profits and expanding patent rights.