Ms. magazine  -- more than a magazine a movement



feminist wire | daily newsbriefs


Suing Bush for His Global Gag Rule

A court hearing has not been scheduled yet in the case of the Center for Reproductive Law and Policy (CRLP) v. George W. Bush, but Janet Benshoof, president of the CRLP says, "Oh, we’re gonna win." The CRLP filed suit against Bush on June 6, 2001, for censoring the speech of U.S. citizens with the Global Gag Rule. Many people know that this policy restricts the rights of foreign nongovernmental organizations that receive U.S. aid by forbidding them to use their own money to speak about abortion law reform. But what many people do not realize is that it also restricts the rights of U.S. organizations like the CRLP. Before the gag rule was put into effect, the CRLP was able to freely distribute and exchange information with foreign partners that supported abortion rights. But because of Bush’s policy, their partners who receive U.S. aid are gagged, and the work of the U.S.-based, nongovernment funded CRLP has effectively ended.

"Bush took away my right to speak because I support a position with which he disagrees: that access to safe and legal abortion is a human right of women worldwide," said Benshoof. "The Global Gag Rule is global censorship that violates fairness, freedom, and democracy."

The gag rule is not new news. President Ronald Reagan imposed the order in 1984, keeping people in countries like Mexico, Nepal, and Zimbabwe in their place by not allowing U.S. funded organizations to openly discuss or support abortion, even in countries where the procedure is legal. President Clinton’s 1999 version of the rule, which gagged both pro-choice and pro-life viewpoints, seems almost democratic in the face of Bush’s reincarnation of the Reagan original that just says no to choice.

The CRLP cannot organize conferences and rallies, disseminate factual information, or engage in public discussions about abortion in foreign countries, and that silence increases the risks to women’s health. About 78,000 women die every year from unsafe abortions, and without access to information, that number may never decrease. Gagged organizations often are not even comfortable providing services like life-saving abortions and post-abortion care (permitted under the terms of the gag rule) because of the fear of being associated with abortion and losing U.S. aid.

Unlike past cases, which have focused on the free speech claims of foreign organizations, the CRLP lawsuit has standing in the U.S. court system. The reproductive rights organization is currently in the briefing stage with the Southern District of New York in the U.S. District Court, and hopes to file the lawsuit soon.

Laura Katzive, staff attorney for CRLP argues, "With the Global Gag Rule, the U.S. Government is imposing laws on people who are not constituents and who cannot hold President Bush accountable politically. The Bush administration also assumes that American women and advocates will remain silent because they think the Global Gag Rule doesn’t affect them. They’re wrong."

Back to Ms.

LEARN MORE Click here to read women's narratives about barriers or successes in accessing reproductive health and family planning services.

Media Resources: MsMagazine

© Feminist Majority Foundation, publisher of Ms. magazine

If you liked this story, consider making a tax-deductible donation to support Ms. magazine.



Send to a Friend

More Feminist News

11/21/2014 STATEMENT: Feminist Majority Foundation Applauds President's Executive Order on Immigration - Statement from Eleanor Smeal, Feminist Majority Foundation president: "The Feminist Majority Foundation applauds President Obama for taking much needed executive action to help fix our broken immigration system that has for too long torn hardworking families apart. . . .
11/21/2014 Fifth Circuit Court Refuses to Reconsider Ruling Blocking Mississippi TRAP Law - The full US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit on Thursday refused to reconsider a panel decision blocking enforcement of a Mississippi law that threatened to close the last remaining abortion clinic in the state. In July, a panel of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a preliminary injunction against a Mississippi TRAP (Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers) law requiring abortion providers to obtain admitting privileges at local hospitals. . . .
11/21/2014 UN Expert Calls for Action To End Violence Against Women in Afghanistan - United Nations Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women Rashida Manjoo returned last week from a nine-day official visit in Afghanistan with a call to the Afghan Government and the international community to continue its focus on creating sustainable solutions to reduce violence against women. This was Manjoo's third visit to Afghanistan, and the Special Rapporteur noted many positive developments since her travel to the country in 1999, during the Taliban regime, and in 2005. In particular, Manjoo cited the creation of the Elimination of Violence Against Women Law (EVAW) by presidential decree in 2009 as "a key step towards the elimination of violence against women and girls."EVAW criminalizes 22 acts of violence against women - including rape, child and forced marriage, domestic violence, trafficking, and forced self-immolation - and specifies punishment for perpetrators. . . .