Rights, Resources, and Results for Women Worldwide
OF THE GLOBAL GAG RULE A CRUCIAL MOVE
TO PROMOTE WOMEN'S HEALTH
22, 2009 -- New York, NY -- On the 36th anniversary of the landmark
Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade, a major step in protecting a
woman's legal right to an abortion, MADRE calls on President to end
the controversial and harmful Mexico City Policy, also known as the
Global Gag Rule. Reports indicate that the president may be
considering such a change, and MADRE supports rapid action on this
Under this policy, no US funds may be directed to any foreign
healthcare organization that provides abortion services or advocates
for the legalization of abortion. These regulations have
denied US aid to organizations providing essential health services,
including reproductive healthcare, child vaccinations, and HIV/AIDS
treatment, to some of the world's poorest people.
The Global Gag Rule, first imposed by President Reagan, was undone
by President Clinton before being reinstituted by President Bush.
MADRE recalls that whenever the Gag Rule has been in force, it has
endangered the lives of women and has undermined reproductive health
Vivian Stromberg, MADRE Executive Director, said today,
"Numerous studies have shown the danger that the Global Gag
Rule presents to women's health internationally, and we have
witnessed its effects in the communities of our sister
organizations. The removal of this substantial barrier to
women's access to essential health services cannot be delayed."
Rebecca Lolosoli, Director of the Umoja Uaso Women's Group, a MADRE
sister organization in Kenya, said today, "The local clinics
are very important for all the women in our community, and when a
clinic closes, it hurts us. For our health, the clinics must
have money and medicines."
MADRE joins other women's health advocates in pointing out that
other considerable obstacles to achieving the highest standards of
health continue to exist, notably in the Helms Amendment of 1973.
This amendment states that no US foreign assistance may be used to
pay for abortion, cutting off a potential source of funding for safe
an expert in international women's human rights issues and has
played a leading role in articulating international human rights
standards related to women's reproductive health, including access
to abortion. She is a professor of law and the co-director of
the International Women's Human Rights Law Clinic at the City
University of New York Law School. Under her direction and
guidance, the Clinic has had a profound impact on the recognition of
women's human rights in the international, regional, and US
contexts, particularly in establishing rape and other gender crimes
as war crimes and crimes against humanity. Prior to joining CUNY,
she worked for 12 years at the Center for Constitutional Rights in
New York City, where she remains a Vice-President and volunteer
attorney. She co-authored the second edition of a leading legal
text, Sex Discrimination and the Law: History, Practice and Theory,
and has published influential articles in the field of reproductive
and sexual rights and international women's human rights.
MADRE's Communications Director, worked for several years as part of
a joint Israeli-Palestinian human rights organization in Jerusalem
before joining MADRE. She has written extensively on US foreign
policy and women's human rights. Her critical analysis has appeared
in online and print publications such as TomPaine.com, Foreign
Policy in Focus, and The W Effect: Bush's War on Women, published by
the Feminist Press in 2004. Ms. Susskind has been featured as a
commentator on CNN, National Public Radio, and BBC Radio.
Contact: Diana Duarte, Media Coordinatormedia@madre.org
(212) 627-0444; email:
is an international women's human rights organization that works in
partnership with community-based women's organizations worldwide to
address issues of health and reproductive rights, economic
development, education, and other human rights. MADRE provides
resources, training, and support to enable our sister organizations
to meet concrete needs in their communities while working to shift
the balance of power to promote long-term development and social
justice. Since we began in 1983, MADRE has delivered nearly 25
million dollars worth of support to community-based women's
organizations in Latin America, the Caribbean, the Middle East,
Africa, Asia, the Balkans, and the United States.
more information about MADRE, visit our website at www.madre.org.