On his first day in office, George W. Bush reinstated the global gag rule. This policy prohibits the United States from granting funds to any overseas health clinic unless it agrees not to use funding from any other source to provide abortion services, abortion-related advocacy, or even abortion counseling or referrals.
The global gag rule blocks women's access to family-planning services that prevent maternal and child deaths, unintended pregnancies, unsafe abortions, and the spread of HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases.
We are closer than ever to repealing the global gag rule. As part of the annual foreign-aid bill, the Senate passed a full repeal of the gag rule and the House passed a partial repeal. The Senate and the House are now working on a compromise version to send to the president.
Even though President Bush has threatened to veto any bill with any pro-choice provision (including the gag rule repeal), Congress still needs to send the president the bill and force him to choose between improving women's health and bowing to pressure from anti-choice groups.
With a very small investment, the United States could dramatically improve poor women's lives around the world. In particular, the overseas family-planning program could substantially help couples plan their families and avoid unintended pregnancy. But unfortunately, President Bush has crippled the program by imposing the global gag rule on overseas health clinics. Because of Bush's horrendous policy, we are not only missing enormous opportunities to help women and families in developing countries, we are stifling democracy.
Please fight to keep the global gag rule repeal in the final FY'08 Foreign Operations spending bill.
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