On January 28, President Biden rescinded the Mexico City policy, more commonly known as the Global Gag Rule. The policy prevents US government funds from going to any foreign nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) that provide abortion-related information, referrals, or services, even with privately raised or non-US funds. It acts as a “gag” on health care providers worldwide, prohibiting them from even counseling women about their reproductive choices or referring them to other health providers for care.
The Trump administration took the policy much further than previous administrations, expanding the restrictions to apply to all US government funded global health assistance, not only to NGOs involved in family planning. This affected frontline health workers providing a range of services beyond sexual and reproductive health care, including vital nutrition programs, lifesaving malaria treatment, and critical tuberculosis and HIV care.
Statement from Dr. Manisha Kumar, head of MSF’s task force on safe abortion care:
"While we are relieved to see a halt to this dangerous policy, there is much more work to do to mitigate the damage we have witnessed. Rescinding the Global Gag Rule is just a first step. Millions of women still don’t have access to safe abortion care because of restrictive laws, cost, stigma, a lack of trained providers, or other unnecessary barriers—such as mandatory waiting periods or misleading information.
The Global Gag Rule does not reduce the number of abortions that take place. Restricting access to abortion only pushes women to resort to unsafe abortion methods.
Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) does not accept US government funding, so our programs are not directly affected by the Global Gag Rule. However, we see the harmful impacts these types of policies have on limiting women's access to essential health care. In 2019, MSF treated more than 25,800 women and girls with abortion-related complications, many of which resulted from unsafe attempts to end a pregnancy.