Seems like common sense to me. Then again, the Bush Administration didn’t have a whole lot of common sense, particularly when it came to women’s reproductive health. With that being said, the Senate Appropriations Committee passed an amendment to the foreign aid appropriations bill two days ago, seeking to ban the Global Gag Rule, permanently.
As many of you know, the Global Gag was an extremely restrictive policy that prevented international non government organizations from receiving federal funding if they provided abortion services for women. It was an incredibly destructive policy as it not only eliminated our ability to help women access reproductive health services, but it also prevented funding for any sex-education measures that were designed to decrease the rate of abortions to begin with. Fortunately enough, President Obama rescinded this policy in January as one of his very first executive orders.
Although Obama’s decision was certainly a victory for women worldwide, the Senate had to consider the possibility that the next administration to step into the white house, 4 or 8 years from now, may have a different set of ethical values when it comes to women’s rights, internationally. It took very little time and effort for the Bush Administration to sign away women’s access to reproductive health care, and it was absolutely necessary that the Senate protect their rights from being eliminated in the future.
Here is what Susan Cohen, Director of Government Affairs for the Guttmacher Institute, had to say, “This is not something that should flip-flop depending on who’s president. It so affects family planning that we need to provide stability and predictability to be most efficient and effective. And since that is the policy of the President and Congress, we should write it into law.” I completely agree. Women’s health is not an issue that should be thrown around, taken and given, depending on what new politician arrives in the white house.
On top of that great news, the bill itself also increases funding for family planning to $628 million, $50 million of which is being allocated directly to the U.N. Family Planning Agency. This is great news for women worldwide, as this funding can be used to decrease unwanted pregnancy, infant mortality, various sexually transmitted diseases including HIV & AIDS, as well as increase education and consciousness among both women and men to make healthy decisions about their bodies. And just to remind you, the return on family planning investments is fabulous.
Emily Douglas at RH Reality Check, tells it like it is. From Bush, to Clinton, to another Bush, and back to Obama; international efforts at providing reproductive health care has most certainly been like a ping pong match. However, thanks to efforts by Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), as well as a committee vote of 17-11, women will now have increased access to health care measures that will not only save thousands of lives, but increase the quality of life for countless women around the world.
I’m pretty optimistic. Sen. Mel Martinez’s (R-FL) unsuccessful attempt to legislatively reinstate the global gag rule after Obama rescinded it, gives me hope that things won’t get in the way of this amendment. Of course that doesn’t mean this initiative was met without a fight. Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS) tried the typical Republican tactic: lying out of her ass about how the amendment would provide taxpayer funding for abortion abroad. Like usual, this couldn’t be further from the truth. The Helms Amendment, which will not be altered by the recent amendment, bans foreign aid funding for abortions. Although I personally disagree with the Helms legislation, it definitely proves Republican Senator Sam Brownback to be incorrect.
Andrew (AJ) is a vehement progressive, youth activist, and reproductive justice organizer. When he's not busy with the movement, you can usually find him dancing in the club or watching trashy reality tv.