The United Nations Foundation’s Universal Access Project Executive Director Seema Jalan issued the following statement on the Biden Administration’s memorandum on Protecting Women’s Health at Home and Abroad, which includes reversing the Global Gag Rule and restoring funding to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA):
“Today’s executive action by the Biden Administration reversing the Global Gag Rule and moving to restore funding to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) is a signal to girls, women and people around the world that the U.S. will uphold their human right to reproductive autonomy and health. We also commend the Administration’s efforts to prioritize foreign assistance funding for global sexual and reproductive health and rights, disavow the abhorrent Geneva Consensus Declaration and begin to address inequitable access to sexual and reproductive health care in the United States. We welcome these as important and necessary first steps in regaining U.S. standing in the world as a champion of sexual and reproductive health and rights and gender equality.
“Every single day for the last four years, the expanded Global Gag Rule and annual defunding of UNFPA have shuttered programs that millions of girls, women and people relied on for their basic healthcare, including reproductive health and family planning, prenatal care and safe childbirth, immunizations, nutrition, HIV/AIDS testing and treatment and diseases like malaria. The U.S. turned its back on the lives, welfare and futures of those who most needed our support – all because of the ideological decisions made by a few in power here in the United States.
“This is the start of rebuilding trust in the United States as a country that values the health, rights and dignity of all people, everywhere. Reversing harmful policies and restoring essential funding is just the beginning. We encourage the Biden Administration to support a permanent end to the Global Gag Rule and address other longstanding harmful and racist policy restrictions and the damage they wreak; to prioritize investing in organizations like UNFPA that provide rights-based, accessible, quality care to people who are marginalized due to age, religion, gender, sexuality, caste, race, ethnicity, ability or other identity around the world; and to proclaim U.S. commitment to sexual and reproductive health and rights and justice, including LGBTQI rights, on the global stage.
“We have a historic opportunity to go beyond reversing damage done and pursue a holistic, transformative U.S. foreign policy that advances sexual and reproductive health, rights and justice, champions gender equality and centers the self-determination of all people to make decisions about their bodies and lives. We look forward to working with the Biden Administration and Congress to make this vision a reality.”
United Nations Foundation Vice President for Global Health Kate Dodson added the following:
“People everywhere have a right to access quality, comprehensive care and services, and that includes sexual and reproductive health care. All countries made a commitment to the promise of health for all under the Sustainable Development Goals and removing roadblocks like the ill-conceived Global Gag Rule and restoring funding to UNFPA will bring us all closer to delivering on that promise. As the world looks to “build back better” from the COVID-19 pandemic, the Biden Administration is rightfully acknowledging that we cannot do so without ensuring reproductive freedom to women everywhere.”