Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Obama Plans to Overturn the Global Gag Rule

In one of the most significant changes on sexual and reproductive health from the Bush administration, advisers to President-elect Barack Obama said yesterday he plans to reverse what is known as the Global Gag Rule. This regulation forbid non-govermental organizations (NGOs) from promoting family planning options like contraception (including condoms) and abortion.

This is especially problematic because this rule forbid promotion of condoms in parts of Africa where HIV infection rates are reaching alarming proportions. Instead the Bush administration pushed the promotion of abstinience except in cases of marriage. The Wonk Room has a good rundown of why this is an ineffective policy for preventing HIV infection:

The rise of HIV infections in girls is attributed not to women’s individual choices and behavior, but to gender inequalities and sexual violence , including the widespread practice and acceptance of child marriage of young girls to older men, forced marriage and polygamy, male promiscuity, “marital rape, domestic violence, wife inheritance, widow cleansing, and female genital mutilation.”

This is significant because it could affect the lives of millions of women who need comprehensive and accurate information about their sexual health.

Cross posted at Pushback.

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