Nightmare on Capitol Hill | Population Action International

What’s scarier than the zombies, ghosts, and goblins we see roaming the streets every Halloween? These policies — and their impact on women all over the world. Keep reading to learn more about these terrifying policies… if you dare.

Watch our video, 30 Years is Enough, to see the terrifying history of the Global Gag Rule.

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The Global Gag Rule has haunted women since it was first introduced by President Reagan in 1984. Broken down, the Gag Rule contains three equally terrifying principles restricting how overseas partners can spend their own money. First, it withholds U.S. family planning funding from foreign NGOs that perform abortions or counsel women regarding abortion. Second, the policy forbids NGOs that receive U.S. funding from advocating for the decriminalization or legalization of abortion in their countries. And if that wasn’t chilling enough, if a clinic is receiving U.S. funding, the Gag Rule forbids doctors from even referring women to another clinic where they could get a safe and legal abortion.

The Gag Rule has been killed by every Democratic president since Reagan, but it never stays gone for long. President Clinton disposed of it, but President Bush resurrected it immediately when he took office. President Obama then ended  it again when he took office. Some people might think this villainous policy has finally been put to rest — but we know better. The Gag Rule will almost inevitably rise from the grave again if a conservative Republican is elected president.   Will this policy ever truly die? Only if Congress drives a stake through its heart by passing the Global Democracy Promotion Act (GDPA). The GDPA would finally repeal the Global Gag Rule for good.

The late Jesse Helms was the leading champion of the anti-choice movement in the Senate until his retirement in 2003.  But he continues to control women’s bodies from beyond the grave through his namesake legislation, the Helms Amendment. Talk about spooky.

The Helms Amendment forbids spending U.S. foreign aid for abortion “as a method of family planning.” The administration currently interprets this hair-raising policy to be an outright ban on U.S. foreign assistance for abortion — including in cases where a woman needs an abortion because of rape or incest, or because her life is in danger. But it doesn’t have to be interpreted that way. More than 80 organizations ranging from family planning advocates, human rights groups, and faith based organizations, have joined together to make sure the most vulnerable women — those who need an abortion due to rape, incest, or because their lives are in danger — have access to safe abortion care.

Will you help us rein in this monster of a policy? Tweet at the White House to ask to reinterpret the policy.

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By day, this policy masquerades as an innocuous amendment to a routine spending bill, but by night it’s a horrifying ban on the use of federal funds to pay for abortions domestically. The Hyde Amendment is not a permanent law, but actually a “rider” that has been routinely attached to annual appropriations bills every year since 1976.

The impacts of abortion restrictions like the Hyde Amendment on women on the ground are ghastly. We know the Helms Amendment has prevented countless women abroad from accessing the reproductive health care they need, and the Hyde Amendment  does the same to women here at home. It’s been proven again and again that restricting abortion access does not drive down the number of abortions, it just makes them less safe.

Reading the details of this spending bill will surely evoke a blood-curdling scream. The House has put forward a spending bill that would cut nearly $150 million dollars from family planning programs, block a U.S. contribution to the UN Population Fund, and it would reinstate the Global Gag Rule. U.S. family planning funding is the lifeblood of many family planning clinics, and such a drastic funding cut could drain the life out of many clinics women rely on.

If passed, this terrifying proposal would be devastating for women around the world. Thankfully, family planning champions in the Senate have proposed their own spending bill, which proposes an increase in family planning funding. 222 million women want to prevent pregnancy, but aren’t using contraceptives. The last time the Global Gag Rule was in effect, many clinics had to scale back their services or close completely. This blood sucking spending bill would surely create more barriers for women to access contraceptives and reproductive care.

Will you sign our petition to defeat this gruesome bill?

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PAI is working to remove policies that put political games before women's health.

This year, we encouraged lawmakers to support the Global Democracy Promotion Act, which would permanently repeal the Global Gag Rule.

We asked President Obama to fix the Helms Amendment to at least make an exception for the most vulnerable women: victims of rape, incest, and women facing a life endangering pregnancy.

We’ve called on our family planning champions in the Senate to stand up to ideological politicians in the House of Representatives, and prevent cuts to family planning funding.

Which policy do you think is the scariest? Click the image to share!