Congressman Howard L. Berman, Ranking Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, attempted to thwart an effort by Republicans to reinstate the Global Gag Rule -- a harmful policy that restricts access to health care and family planning for poor women and families around the world. The proposed new policy is far more extreme than the Global Gag Rule policy that was implemented under Presidents Reagan, George Bush, or George W. Bush.
"In the name of "right to life," Republicans are cutting off funds that are literally saving hundreds of thousands of lives," said Congressman Berman. "This extreme version of the Global Gag Rule is the height of hypocrisy, and I will fight against every effort to reinstate this offensive policy. The last thing we should be doing is limiting access to health care for women in poor countries around the globe."
Included in the Republican authored Foreign Relations Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012, H.R. 2583, was an extreme provision that not only prohibits family planning assistance to local health care providers in poor countries -- it bars ALL forms of assistance to such organizations, including funding for HIV/AIDS, water and sanitation, child survival, and education. Even President George W. Bush exempted HIV/AIDS assistance from the Global Gag Rule restrictions.
The clinics and NGOs supported by U.S. funding have the expertise, capacity, and proven track records on supporting women's health around the world. They reach out to rural communities who have no other access point to health care services. The language in the bill would remove a vital lifeline for women and their families.
Congressman Berman offered an amendment to eliminate this extreme policy from the bill. Despite earning wide support among non-partisan organizations, the amendment was defeated by the Republican majority on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Organizations supporting Congressman Berman's amendment include: Planned Parenthood Federation of America; International Planned Parenthood Federation; The Public Health Institute; Pathfinder International; Population Action International; United Methodist Church; General Board of Church & Society; National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW); International Women's Health Coalition; Guttmacher Institute; NARAL Pro-Choice America; Population Connection; and The Feminist Majority.
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