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Global Gag Rule Revocation Explained for Humanitarian Actors

What Happened?

President Joe Biden signed a presidential memorandum on January 28, 2021, that revokes the global gag rule (GGR), also called the Mexico City Policy and known as Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance in the Trump Administration.

Among other things, the presidential memorandum:

  • States that: “It is the policy of my Administration to support women's and girls' sexual and reproductive health and rights in the United States, as well as globally.”
  • Revokes Trump’s January 23, 2017 presidential memorandum to reinstate the GGR and all the subsequent expansions of the policy.
  • Directs the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, the Administrator of USAID, and all other agencies involved in foreign assistance to:
    • immediately waive any conditions in assistance awards that were imposed pursuant to the January 2017 Presidential Memorandum in any current grants;
    • notify current grantees, as soon as possible, that these conditions have been waived; and
    • immediately cease imposing these conditions in any future assistance awards.

What Happens Now?

Here's what we expect in the coming months:

  • The harm, fear, and chilling effect caused by the GGR won’t disappear overnight.
  • USAID and CDC, the primary implementing agencies of the policy, should have communicated the end of the policy to all prime partners, who in turn should have communicated with all sub-primes.
  • We will be working for the expedited revision of the USAID, CDC, Department of State and other standard provisions to remove the policy from current and future grants and agreements.
  • Advocates will work with the White House and Congress in Washington D.C. to urgently and permanently end the GGR with legislation. The Global HER Act was also reintroduced on January 28, 2021 by Senator Shaheen and Representative Barbara Lee, with an unprecedented number of original co-sponsors!

What Does This Mean for Humanitarian Organizations?

  • Organizations that received U.S. Global Health Assistance, and were subject to the policy, are no longer restricted.
  • The redacted versions of the IAFM and related materials should be taken out of circulation and no longer used by any organization or program. The full and current materials can be found here.

With the GGR revoked, organizations receiving U.S. global health assistance CAN:

  • provide, promote, and advocate around abortion with NON-U.S. funds
  • provide counseling and referrals for legal abortion WITH U.S. funds

Sexual and reproductive health services remain critical during COVID-19

IAWG members and partners are producing clinical and programmatic guidance, assessments, policy papers, and statements to ensure continued prioritization of sexual and reproductive health and rights throughout COVID-19 response in humanitarian settings.