Global Justice Center Blog

"That's Illegal" Episode 3: Trump's Global Gag

Listen to GJC's legal experts discuss the implications of Trump's expanded Global Gag Rule. Find us on iTunes and Soundcloud.

Transcript: Trump’s Global Gag

STEPHANIE OLSZEWSKI: Welcome to "That's Illegal!" a podcast about international law in the age of nationalism. This podcast is produced by the Global Justice Center or GJC. The Global Justice Center is a legal, human rights non-profit based in New York City. Our work focuses on moving international humanitarian laws from paper to practice. Our staff consists of lawyers with international law expertise who work regularly with partners at the EU and the UN. Given the recent development of countries turning increasingly nationalistic and the rise in global tensions, we thought it would be a good idea to sit down and talk about the importance of international law, why we have it, and why we should implement it. So every week we're going to take a look at the latest news and break down the legality of what happened, using the framework of international law.

Last week, the Trump administration expanded the Global Gag Rule to impact all global health assistance—some $8.8 billion in US foreign aid. This week, we will be looking at the abortion restrictions that the US has been applying to its foreign aid for decades. We’ll discuss the impact that these restrictions have on women around the world, and what’s being done to challenge them.

ELENA SARVER: I think it makes the most sense to start with Helms and go from there. In 1973, Roe v. Wade is decided. What happens next?

AKILA RADHAKRISHNAN: After Roe v. Wade was decided, there was an effort from the right to start restricting access to abortion. If you couldn’t get rid of the right, you start to restrict access. One of the first measures was taken was to restrict public funding for abortion services. Jesse Helms, in 1973, introduced the Helms Amendment to the Foreign Assistance Act. Back then, it said that if you ask money for development assistance, then you cannot use it to support or promote abortion as a method of family planning. That type of language and limitation was put in place in 1974 through the Hyde Amendment on domestic funding.

GRANT SHUBIN: After Roe v. Wade, you have the passage of Helms as a matter of law in Congress. That applied to US money going overseas. A year later, you have Hyde Amendment passed, which applied to US money domestically. Both of those are pieces of legislation. Gag is something different.

AKILA RADHAKRISHNAN: Since the Helms amendment was passed in 1973, over the years, it has expanded. When Helms first began, it started as a restriction on part one of the Foreign Assistance Act, which covered development aid. Starting in the 1980s, Congress started to include the language of Helms directly within annual appropriation bills, which is how the foreign assistance money is approved. Over the years, it has grown to encompass all appropriations. That includes bilateral aid, humanitarian aid, and any money that’s given out through foreign assistance.

A few other restrictions have been put in place in addition to the Helms. The Helms amendment was focused on abortion-related speech and abortion services. We’ve had the Leahy amendment, the Siljander amendment, the Kemp-Kasten amendment. These are all other vehicles that place limitations on issues related to abortion, involuntary sterilization, biomedical testing. For the purposes of this conversation, the other amendment that is most relevant is the Siljander amendment. When it was first put in place, it prevented lobbying for abortion, which meant that you couldn’t use US funds to lobby to change laws in favor of liberalizing them. Over time that amendment has become “neutral.” It is now the restriction that prevents you from using US money to lobby for or against abortion.

GRANT SHUBIN: As a point of clarification, those are amendments to the appropriation bill. As the US donates money every year, as the US allocates money every year to go overseas and fund programs, these amendments change how those appropriations are permitted to be made. It could be the case that US gives 100 million dollars, and they can use it freely. But then these amendments happen that say that you can use these 100 million dollars but you can’t use it in x, y, z ways. These amendments restrict abortion access overseas.

ELENA SARVER: We’ve discussed Helms. What happened after? You mentioned gag, so can you talk about that?

AKILA RADHAKRISHNAN: In 1984, Reagan decided that it wasn’t enough to restrict how USAID was using the US funds. It was important what the entire organization did with anyone’s money. The Global Gag Rule said that if you are a foreign NGO, receiving US family planning assistance, then in addition to Helms and other amendments, you now have to certify that you wouldn’t perform or actively promote abortion as a method of family planning with any funds that you receive from any donors. As an organization, you would have to stop all abortion services as a method of family planning (which allows for limited exemptions in cases of rape and incest) or provide referrals for abortions.

GRANT SHUBIN: One critical element in the relationship between Helms and the Gag Rule is that Congress passes legislation, and the executive is charged with executing those laws. This is much broader than humanitarian assistance; it extends to environmental laws or any law that needs to be executed. That legislation never goes anywhere unless it’s repealed by Congress. In the case of executive action, that is different. When Akila mentions that Reagan put in the Global Gag Rule, it’s still the case that Helms applies. There is confusion over who is governed by Gag and who is governed by Helms. That confusion has a chilling effect where no one wants to do any abortion related activity because they don’t know where they fit in to this very confusing array of laws and regulations.

AKILA RADHAKRISHNAN: We should probably note that you’ll notice that I said that the Gag Rule applies to foreign NGOs. It actually doesn’t apply to a broad range of actors that also get the Helms on them. The Helms amendment applies to NGOs that are US-based. It applies to multilateral institutions. It can apply to public international organizations, which are quasi state-based organizations—like the United Nations. In the context of the Gag Rule, it only applies to foreign NGOs. It doesn’t apply to US-based NGOs because it violates free speech guarantees within the US for US citizens.

Reagan put it in place, and it remained in place through Bush senior. When Clinton came into office, he issued an executive order to revoke the Gag Rule. When George W. Bush came back, he put it back in place. He essentially put the Reagan order back in place. When Obama came into office, within days, he revoked it. It’s political football. It’s a partisan policy that presidents now use routinely in order to affect ideological concerns.

GRANT SHUBIN: There is nothing that presidents can do about the imposition of the Helms amendment. The Helms amendment is always going to be there.


GRANT SHUBIN: Well, the Helms amendment has always been there in the past—I should say. To explicitly articulate what Gag is, as we work so closely with it, we can skim over precisely what it does. I’ll use an example. Let’s say that I’m an NGO that’s organized under the laws of Sierra Leon. As an NGO, I need donor money. I get money from the US, the EU, and the UK. If Gag is not in place, what I am permitted to do is get money from the US, the EU, and the UK but keep all that money separate. As long as I’m not providing abortion services or any other things prohibited by Helms, with US money, I’m allowed to conduct those services with other donors’ money. I can still run these operations with the EU and the UK money. The Global Gag Rule fully prohibits foreign NGOs to use anybody’s money. This policy says that we’re going to give you US money but there is going to be a censor on what you can do with anybody’s money. In that way, it’s a massive blanket of what foreign NGOs are able to provide to people in need.

AKILA RADHAKRISHNAN: You have to do a certification that you will not engage in these prohibited activities in order to remain eligible for US aid. If you are a US-based NGO, you do have to pass the restriction too. It doesn’t apply directly to you but you have to obtain a certification from any of your foreign NGOs that they won’t do that work.

ELENA SARVER: Fast forward to January 2017: what did the new Trump administration do differently from previous presidents before him?

AKILA RADHAKRISHNAN: So many things. I don’t think we have time to get to all of those things today. In terms of the Gag Rule, Trump decided that his Gag Rule is going to be bigger. It’s something that he seems to enjoy. In addition to reinstating the usual limitations on foreign NGOs who receive US family planning assistance, he also instructed the Secretary of State to find a way to expand the requirements of Gag to all global health assistance from all departments and agencies. After four months, the State Department finally announced the parameters of what that expansion will look like. It’s now going to apply to about $8.8 billion in US global health assistance. Coming not only from USAID and the State Department but also to pockets of funding that comes out of HHS, which is Health and Human Services, the CDC, and Department of Defense.

GRANT SHUBIN: Where that’s different from previous iterations is that the Gag Rule, in its former applications, before Trump, only applied to US family planning funding, which was around $600 million. Trump expanded that to global health. As Akila mentioned, it’s $8.8 billion.

AKILA RADHAKRISHNAN: The majority of that funding (about 6 billion) is money that is allocated to programming that deals with HIV/AIDS. President Bush, in a 2003 memorandum, exempted this programming from the Gag Rule. Now we have a massive expansion into an area where a lot of programming is intricately tied with issues of family planning and sexual reproductive health.

GRANT SHUBIN: Speaking for myself, not sure if you will agree, I’m disheartened but I’m not entirely surprised that this expansion has taken place. Like you mentioned before, with Roe v. Wade being in the law, you started to have strategy to restrict access. The expansion of the Gag Rule is fully in line with that strategy. It’s horrible but it’s no different than the types of things we’ve seen anti-choice advocates and zealots doing in the past.

AKILA RADHAKRISHNAN: Absolutely. With the Republicans having unfettered power within Congress, this is not that surprising. A few years ago, we saw the bill that was called the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act where they tried to get rid of the rape exceptions. Grant, I think you’re exactly right. The anti-choice movement has become more and more emboldened. They’ve also decided that facts, evidence, and figures have nothing to do with the policies that we create. We have 30 years of experience in times when the Helms and the Gag Rule have both been in place. We know what the impact is. We know that it is far more harmful to women to have these restrictions in place.

Specifically, it endangers women’s health. There was a study that shows that it actually increases the rates of abortions and not decreases them. It increases the rates of unsafe abortions, which means that women are taking more chances with their health. When you cut off access to family planning and contraception, you’re going to have a rise in unplanned pregnancies and unsafe abortions. Clearly, there is a disconnect between the policies that politicians are choosing to put in place and any evidence that’s related to what’s actually beneficial to women’s health.

ELENA SARVER: What are the kinds of organizations that will be impacted by this new policy?

AKILA RADHAKRISHNAN: In the past, when it was limited to family planning assistance, it was International Planned Parenthood, Marie Stopes International, and the organizations that you think of that provide family planning. Some of those organizations know that abortion is important enough to the work that they do that they will not sign these restrictions—even though they know that it’s going to severely hamper their ability to do their work. They know that they’re going to have to cut down on what they do. There are a lot of other organizations that don’t have the luxury of saying no to US funding. This expansion covers pockets of funding that go toward child and maternal health, tuberculosis, malaria, Zika. You’re going to see a much larger range of health-based organizations that are now going to have to certify that in no way do they provide abortion services or talk about abortion.

GRANT SHUBIN: This expansion from family planning to global health—the expansion from $600 million to $8.8 billion—is going to include a huge range of organizations that don’t have any experience doing this before. Planned Parenthood and Marie Stopes have been through the Gag Rule before and have institutional memory on how most efficiently to implement it. There is going to be a numerable amount of organizations that have no idea what to do. That is a huge problem.

One of the most sinister elements of Gag is the fear that it creates. Many of these organizations are going to shut down a lot of the programming that they don’t necessarily need to. They’re so afraid of losing their US funding.

AKILA RADHAKRISHNAN: It’s something that we have seen. We know from the studies that have been done in the past that there is a wide spread confusion. These regulations are really confusing. On the one hand, you have a set of restrictions that say what you can and cannot do with US funds. Right now, that does not even include exceptions for rape, life, or incest. If you are an organization that receives US money, you cannot provide or talk about abortion in any circumstance—there is no exception to it. You cannot buy abortion-related equipment. You cannot lobby for or against abortion. That can include participating in public conversations in your own country; that includes doing research or studies on the impact of unsafe abortions—especially if that’s connected to any legislative reform.

On top of that, you have new restrictions that say that with anyone’s funding you cannot talk about abortion and cannot provide abortion service—but you can in the context or rape and incest. And you can provide these passive referrals. It’s too confusing to understand what you can and cannot do.

What we know from history is that organizations tend to restrictively interpret what they can and cannot do. So they shut down a whole range of things they can do. You can provide referrals for abortion services in case of rape, life, and incest. You can even provide referrals in a specified set of circumstances that the US government calls passive referrals. If a pregnant woman comes in who is determined to have an abortion, there are specific sets of conditions that need to be met but you can do that. But we know that what most organizations do is they stop doing anything related to abortion.

The other impact is because of the way this does shut down partnerships and organizations who won’t sign the Gag Rule, those organizations lose large sums of money—even if they were never getting US money for abortion services. They may lose the funding they were receiving for condom deliveries or for providing other sorts of vital sexual and reproductive healthcare. It leads into a vicious cycle of making all kinds of family planning and reproductive healthcare unavailable. It also stigmatizes and shuts down abortion services, which we know leads to women seeking out unsafe abortion.

GRANT SHUBIN: The Global Gag Rule is deadly. But we should not lose sight of how bad the Helms amendment is. Whether or not the Gag is in place is material for thousands and thousands of women around the world but it doesn’t change the fact that Helms still exists. You still cannot provide these services with US money—even in case of rape, life, and incest. The US is the largest bilateral donor in the world. You’re going from a situation where the largest bilateral donor does not permit you to provide abortion services to a worse situation where the largest bilateral donor says that you cannot do it with our money or anyone else’s money. Since the Gag Rule is so offensive, it’s getting a lot of press right now. I think it’s really important that we don’t lose sight of how bad Helms is as well. And we’ve been living with the Helms amendment since the 1970s.

AKILA RADHAKRISHNAN: We’ll continue to live with it until we get Congressional commitment to overturn Helms. The 2016 Democratic platform was the first time that the Democratic Party had put in place a commitment to overturn Helms. We need to continue to push for these types of commitments. The evidence shows over and over again that the only result of this is further harm to women’s lives.

ELENA SARVER: With Helms in place and this new expansion of Gag, who can perform abortions?

AKILA RADHAKRISHNAN: A very small subset of organizations that do not get US funding. That is going to be major organizations. IPPF and Marie Stopes both said that they will not be signing the Gag Rule. They will be able to continue to do their programing. It will be likely on a smaller scale around the world. There are not really a lot of organizations that are like that. There are US-based NGOs that are able to set up clinics and provide services without partnering with local organizations.

There has to be much more clarity when people talk about what can and cannot be done. It’s important that we do all that we can to make sure that the chilling effect of Gag is minimized, so that people don’t just shut down and stop doing the things that they are allowed to do. You can speak about abortion under the Gag Rule and perform abortion services when it comes to using money from other donors—in cases of rape, life, and incest. Is that what we want? Absolutely, not. But is that something that should continue to be provided? Yes.

There are a lot of advocates (like us) who work around these issues to help ensure that the organizations on the ground have the clarity that they need and continue to do what they can. We know what a difficult situation this puts organizations that receive US aid.

GRANT SHUBIN: Part of the reason why it’s a small subset of organizations is because it’s a matter of survivability. Organizations rely on US money to continue to survive. If you forgo your US funding, that means you cannot exist.

AKILA RADHAKRISHNAN: To be fair, there are not a lot of organizations that hold abortion as fundamental to the work that they do. There are some, and they are fantastic. But if you are an organization that is doing massive work around Zika prevention or malaria transmission, and you get funds from the US government for that work, then you may have a pocket where you have family planning services, where you may refer someone for abortion services, or you might partner with a clinic that performs abortion services. Are you really going to risk losing all of your money for that important malaria work that you were doing just so that you can continue to do the abortion work? Probably, not.  That is not to say anything about the organizations but it is a reality. Abortion is complicated and hard enough to obtain in the US—there is not that many clinics or doctors that do it. That is the same situation around the world. So what we’re doing is taking a service that is already difficult to obtain and provide and make it that much more difficult to access.

ELENA SARVER: We’ve talked about the expansion from family planning to global health assistance and the potential impact of $600,000 to $8.8 billion. What is being done, if anything, to combat this loss of funding?

GRANT SHUBIN: A lot of European donors have tried to fill the gap. In the most immediate of these efforts is She Decides, which is a joint initiative by the government of Finland, the Netherlands, Belgium, Sweden, and Denmark. They have allocated some money to try to fill the gap that will be lost for organizations that don’t want to sign the Gag Rule.

AKILA RADHAKRISHNAN: It’s done good work. It was announced by the Dutch government two days after Trump reinstated the Gag Rule. There was a conference in March, which was the initial kick-off point where they were able to secure about a $180 million in commitments. That is no small sum of money. But that is also nowhere near the funding gap that could be created if a large set of organizations do not sign the Gag Rule. A part of that is going to be contingent on how many organizations end up choosing to comply with the Gag and how many choose not to. We do not know yet what the volume of it would be. We can guess from past experience that we’ve seen just how devastating the impact could be when it’s just applied to family planning assistance, which was a 600 million figured. Because we’re expending it far outside, we can only guess that the scale will be much larger.

Some will say that it doesn’t really matter because they’re doing work on malaria, Zika, and Ebola. What does it have to do with abortion? Why would it even matter? Why would it impact their work? It absolutely would. When you look at Zika, for example, it is intrinsically tied with the dangers of carrying a pregnancy forward. If you are restricting Zika programming, you are restricting the response that can be provided to Zika. It is the same with HIV/AIDS programming.

There is inter-connectedness where people are able to compartmentalize abortion, saying that it’s just one service that doesn’t matter because what is important is all the other stuff. Oftentimes, when it comes to women’s health, the consequences of these other communicable diseases or these other impacts are exacerbated when it comes to abortion. They cause an increased cost to women’s life, and they cause a risk to infants’ lives. So abortion is a necessary medical service in all of these contexts.

ELENA SARVER: Is there anything new about the response this time around—that’s different from before?

GRANT SHUBIN: As far as I know, the She Decides Movement is novel. It’s not something that had happened in the past. One of the benefits of having Trump as president is that he’s an agitator of things he wants and of things he doesn’t want. He is a person who motivates a lot of action against him because so many people don’t agree with where he’s taking the country or the world. She Decides is a good example of it being a response to him and the type of global order he is trying to institute.

AKILA RADHAKRISHNAN: In the last eight years, during the Obama administration, advocates in the US and around the world did a lot of work to raise the awareness of the harms of the ongoing implementation of the Helms amendment without exceptions and the residual impacts of the Gag Rule. In the last eight years, there has also been a strong base of global coalition around the harms of the Helms amendment, the censorship that it causes, and what governments should be doing to more explicitly commit to funding abortion, more explicitly take actions to counter the Helms amendment by segregating US funds from their money.

The response to the Gag Rule now builds upon the eight years of advocacy that has happened by a large group of actors. I think that’s really important because we don’t want to lose on what we already gained, which is not only about the Gag Rule but also about the fundamental concerns of Helms. Also, in trying to bring forth positive models, there has been a lot of work in not only trying to get Helms condemned, which is only one part. It’s also for those governments (who are progressive and committed to these issues) to understand that when it comes to abortion, it’s really important to be explicit and vocal. A lot of governments have taken a stance that everyone knows we’re okay with funding abortion, so, of course, you know you can use our money to do it. That’s true but considering how stigmatized abortion is, it’d be helpful for grantees to know not only that it’s okay but for them to explicitly say, “Please do use our funding to provide abortion services.” That has helped build a base on which a response to the Gag Rule can be built as well.

ELENA SARVER: Let’s talk about international law. In what ways does this new policy violate international law?

GRANT SHUBIN: Within international law, you have international human rights law. There are international human rights treaties, which cover a broad range of topics. Countries sign, ratify, and make these treaties enforceable within their borders. Once these treaties are in effect, countries are obligated to enforce them and make them realize the rights that are imbedded in them.

The Gag Rule and barring abortion access are violations of the right to be free from torture, the right to be free from cruel and degrading treatment. That’s not necessarily me as an advocate at GJC saying that. That’s something that the Committee against Torture has found, the UN Special Rapporteur on torture has found, and a wide variety of other international actions have said. If you restrict abortion in certain context, it constitutes torture and cruel, inhumane, and degrading treatment. That’s a human right that we have—to be free from that type of treatment but Helms violates it.

AKILA RADHAKRISHNAN: The US is contravening the ability of other countries to ensure that their citizens have the rights they’re supposed to have. Nowhere is this as egregious as in the area of free speech. As we discussed, the Helms amendment, the Siljander amendment, and the Gag Rule are not just about performing abortion services; they’re about talking about abortion. In one context, they restrict the information that a doctor can provide to the patient. They interfere within that relationship. So if Elena were my doctor, then we would be suppressing the speech that you would give to your own patient.

In another context—this is where the Siljander amendment is really important—we shot down speech that relates to changing laws in other countries. We’ve talked a lot about unsafe abortion. Multiple studies show one important thing: legality of abortion has nothing to do with the number of women who seek it. Legality has zero to do with the rates of abortion. Legality correlates with safe or unsafe abortion services available. When performed safely, abortion is one of the safest medical procedures that a woman can get. When it’s unsafe, then we have staggering statistics of 13% maternal deaths, which is attributed to unsafe abortions. Millions of women around the world suffer from very serious consequences in the cases they survive unsafe abortions. There is a whole range of ways (from traditional to inserting objects) of what women do when they can’t get access to legal abortion. We see an increase of those in the US because of the limitations of how few clinics there are.

What does that mean? It means that in order to serve public health concerns over women’s lives, changing abortion laws is an incredibly important component of ensuring women’s access to health services. The Gag Rule, the Helms amendment, the Siljander shot down political speech. It’s not just the doctor or the clinic director who’s limited. It includes people that we fund and ministries of health in other countries, advocates who are working on legal reform. We stop them from participating in conferences, doing studies on the impact of unsafe abortion. We stop them from participating at all. We once stopped the Minister of Health in Malawi from participating in a conference because it was contemplated that changing Malawi’s abortion laws would be agenda. That was explicitly shut down by USAID.

We’re also causing severe long-term consequences. We are preventing the change that needs to happen. You have all these human rights bodies telling other countries that in order to comply with human rights obligations, you need to make abortion legal and remove barriers to abortion access. Yet, we are shutting down the ability in many countries for them to be able to do something. We are stopping countries and women’s rights advocates from achieving human rights around the world—not only directly in the provision of services but in creating a legal infrastructure that allows women realize their human rights.  

GRANT SHUBIN: The speech restrictions that the US puts on abortion services is like if there were a country where the use of pesticides caused health complications. When the US gives money to this country or NGOs in this country, it adds a caveat that prohibits talking about pesticides at all—not about the fact that they cause damage, not about anything. That prohibits that country from doing anything to fix that problem, from passing legislation and amending their constitutions to prohibit pesticides in their country. It prevents them from improving the situation in their country. That is very similar to what the US restrictions on abortions do in foreign countries.

AKILA RADHAKRISHNAN: The minute you replace abortion with something else, you have a much clearer way of seeing the complete absurdity of what it is that you’re trying to do. We treat abortion with this crazy exceptionalism—when it’s really just medical care and a service that women need. We need to get to a place where we stop allowing that to happen when it comes to abortion. Renaming it “Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance” (at least according to what they said) reflects more accurately what they’re trying to do. It does the opposite because it fails to protect women’s lives. 

ELENA SARVER: What about the US laws? Does this new policy violate any US laws?

AKILA RADHAKRISHNAN: Our constitutional jurisprudence provides no protection from this. Funding has been distinguished from access to a fundamental right. There have been a series of cases that have gone up to the Supreme Court—all of which have failed. The US does not provide any sort of constitutional protection when it comes to how federal funds are used to promote a particular view point or another. You don’t have to subsidize the access to a fundamental right; you just can’t create barriers to it. Constitutionally, unfortunately, there isn’t really anything that it violates. We would argue that it absolutely constitutional guarantees of free speech.

ELENA SARVER: What legal victories have there been? What more can be done?

GRANT SHUBIN: Certain legal victories have happened from GJC since the August 12th Campaign began in 2010. A lot of that progress relates to international humanitarian law and getting abortion services to be recognized as falling within category of health care, which is protected by international humanitarian law. International humanitarian laws, which are referred to just as the Geneva Conventions of 1949, are some of international laws strongest laws that are respected. It’s a regime that’s taken very seriously.

As a result of August 12th Campaign, which GJC has been undertaking now for seven years, we have been trying to embed the interpretation of international humanitarian law to avail abortion services to victims of conflict. Countries have been starting to do that. The United Nations Security Council has started to do that. The EU has done that. The victories have been the recognition in these bodies by state governments or by the UN and the EU. If you’re a victim of armed conflict, your right to nondiscriminatory medical care includes the option of abortion. There’s beginning to develop a global consensus that war rape victims and women and girls who are pregnant in situations of armed conflict have the right to the option of abortion services because of international humanitarian law. That is something that no one else is really doing.

AKILA RADHAKRISHNAN: There’re also been massive victories around using human rights laws and around domestic regimes changing abortion laws. Since the last time that the Gag Rule was in place in 2008, under George W. Bush, thirty countries have liberalized their abortion laws.  Now we’re operating in a sphere where abortion is a legal service that women are entitled to access in more countries. That’s enormous.

Those are important victories, and we need to continue to build on those. The Gag Rule is going to complicate the landscape as Helms already does. Despite all of this, we see progress in women’s rights. We might not see that in the United States because we’re seeing a slow, consistent rollback of women’s rights. The power of the law bolsters and moves forward women’s rights to equality. If equality is the guiding principle, then other rights to health care, the right to be free from discrimination are what we want to keep building. Whether it’s on ensuring that women raped in war have access to abortion services around the world, it’s not just about the US. As Grant was saying, we’ve been building positive legal victories and practices with other countries.

While the US remains an impediment, others remain a force for positive change. That’s where we really see the need to continue to push forward and push ahead. That’s where it’s been heartening to see an immediate response against the Global Gag Rule. It shows that we’re at a place now where others aren’t willing to passively sit by and allow the US to use its money to dictate what women’s lives look like all around the world. Those are the legal victories that we’re going for—whether it’s under the Trump administration or the next Democratic one. We will need to continue to fight against the US being a regressive force around the world. But that’s not going to stop us from trying to achieve human rights everywhere else.


Tags: Abortion, US Abortion Restrictions, Abortion Access in Conflict, Resistance, Podcast