Follow Population Alert on


What is the Global Gag Rule?

What is the Global Gag Rule?

Among the very first official acts of newly elected President George W. Bush, who is no fan of U.S. aid for international population assistance, was the imposition of the onerous Global Gag Rule. This policy denies U.S. population assistance funding to organizations that 1) provide legal abortion services using their own, non-U.S. funds or 2) participate in public debates about abortion, again, using their own, non-U.S. funds.

In short, the gag rule forces many health care providers to choose between providing needed services and participating in their own country's political process. This policy threatens to undermine decades of progress made in providing family planning and slowing population growth.

Talking Points

The Global Gag Rule is anti-democratic:
The gag rule prohibits local non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from participating public debate about abortion. The prohibition of such public debate is the prohibition of an essential part of the democratic process.

The Gag Rule is anti-woman:
Because it prohibits political participation and is limited to family planning funds, it will disproportionately effect women's organizations, which historically have had little or no voice in policy decisions in developing nations. The Global Gag Rule washes away the progress made by women's groups toward greater political participation and women's rights.

The Global Gag rule is anti-environment:
By restricting funds that go to international family planning, the gag rule encourages population growth, thereby reducing our natural resource base.

The Gag Rule will only lead to more, not fewer, abortions:
Family planning reduces abortion. The most effective way to help reduce abortions is to reduce unintended pregnancies around the world by ensuring adequate funding for voluntary family planning assistance. The example of the city of Almaty in Kazakhstan is one of the most dramatic. The U.S. population program has provided funding to train doctors and nurses and to increase contraceptive supplies for 28 clinics. The number of people provided contraceptives by these clinics has increased by 59 percent between 1993 and 1994. During the same period, the number of abortions fell by 41 percent.

The Global Gag Rule will harm families' quality of life:
The Gag Rule cuts off funding to the most effective and experienced local agencies around the world, seriously undermining the decades of progress that have been made. U.S. funding for international family planning has expanded access to contraception for millions of couples in developing nations, enabling them to conscientiously plan their families. In countries where the U.S. has provided support, population growth rates have fallen, making an important contribution to the future quality of life on our planet.

Publication Archive

What's Related:

  • Becoming a Member

    Population Connection
    1400 16th Street NW, Suite 320
    Washington, D.C. 20036

    Main: 202-332-2200
    Fax: 202-332-2302
    Toll Free: 1-800-POP-1956