Joint Press Statement:

Global Gag Rule Rescinded

Women’s Legal Centre and Legal Resources Centre

On 28 January 2021, President Biden signed a Presidential Memorandum rescinding the expanded Global Gag Rule, also known as the Mexico City Policy, that was reinstated by President Trump in 2017. The Global Gag Rule (GGR) is a policy that prohibits foreign NGOs receiving certain categories of health assistance funding from the United States (US) from performing or promoting abortion services.

The adoption and implementation of the GGR had and continues to have serious implications for many womxn and other vulnerable groups. Fundamentally, the policy has blocked access to abortion and comprehensive reproductive health rights of womxn. The harm did not just stop with this – a wide variety of other health services were impacted too. You can learn more about its operation and effects from our joint publication or sumarised explainer video.

In signing the memorandum rescinding the GGR, President Biden has taken the necessary and urgent step towards ensuring reproductive rights for womxn. Rescinding the policy is a step towards undoing the harmful impact and restrictions put in place by the policy. Accordingly, the Women’s Legal Centre (WLC) and Legal Resources Centre (LRC) welcome this decision by President Biden. We, however, recognise that the rescission of the GGR is one step in a series of efforts required to undo the harm caused by the GGR and other regressive policies adopted and/or extended during the Trump administration aimed at limiting access to safe and legal abortion services in South Africa and globally.

With the signing of the Presidential Memorandum, the real work begins. Locally, the most important step is to build the capacity of NGOs currently gagged of the rescission of the GGR and its implications for their organisations and work. Even more, it requires concerted and dedicated efforts in the US to pass the Global Health Empowerment and Rights Act – legislation that would do away with the power to reinstate the GGR and permanently put an end to it.

Read more about the next steps our partners in the US, CHANGE, will take via this explainer. We will continue to monitor the developments of the GGR’s rescission and its effects on current funding agreements with NGOs, and therefore continue our work educating organisations and individuals on the GGR.

WLC and LRC remain committed in its work to challenge the effects of the Global Gag Rule and are a resource service to organisations affected by this policy. Should you have any questions or require further information about the GGR and what it means for you, kindly contact us at and

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