March 9, 2021 – The effects of Us President Joe Biden to lift the ban on the global gag rule is beginning to take effect as a number of foreign organizations have started making structural adjustments to accommodate the new regime’s directive.
February 12, 2021, the FHI 360; an international non-profit organization working to improve the health and well-being of people in the US and Africa; through the Meeting Targets and Maintaining Epidemic Control ( EPIC )project- fully executed a modification to its cooperative agreement with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to remove the Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance (PLGHA) standard provision. Accordingly, the requirements of PLGHA are no longer in effect.
“Your subaward is hereby unilaterally amended to remove the PLGHA standard provision. The action to remove the standard provision from your subaward will be reflected in the next modification.” Said Erin Williams, FHI 360 Contracting Officer.
“All other terms and conditions, including statutory restrictions relating to abortion, as applicable under both US and local law, remain in effect as reflected in the terms and conditions”, she added.
The move now puts to rest Trump’s administration’s gag rule that placed restrictions on U.S. global health funding, that had grave consequences for women worldwide: As a direct result of the policy’s design to cut funding to healthcare providers, it led to more maternal deaths and unsafe abortions, rise in HIV and AIDS, and the breakdown of civil society coalitions and partnerships, such as Marie Stopes International, that provide reproductive healthcare in poor and rural regions worldwide.
First implemented by the Ronald Reagan administration in 1984, the policy has been enforced during all subsequent Republican administrations. Before Trump reinstated it, it applied only to family planning funding. But since 2017, it had been extended to all global health funding.
Peninah Mwangi, the executive director of the Bar Hostess Empowerment and support programme, BHESP, an organization in Kenya that advocates for the rights of sex workers and minority women said the expansions of the PLGHA restricted the work of various organizations that deal in reproductive health matters.
“That means you have HIV programs, you have family planning, maternal health, all these programs are integrated and the gag rule was in itself means of denying these vulnerable groups access to their reproductive health rights, it was draconian,” Ms Mwangi said.
Biden has also pledged to immediately restore US funding for the United Nations Population fund, the main UN agency concerned with sexual reproductive health which Trump defunded in 2017. In short, Biden’s goal is to roll back many of the Trump era initiatives that have violated human rights, and especially women’s rights.
“This been a good start, we are yet to see the permanent removal of the harmful policy for better days. “Concluded Ms Mwangi.