The Biggest Foreign Policy Difference That Won’t Come Up in the Debate

The third and final presidential debate will focus on foreign policy, and we can be all but certain the issue of international family planning and the global gag rule will not come up. That’s despite the fact that the outcome of this election will decide the fate of millions of women abroad.

Republican nominee Mitt Romney and his running mate Paul Ryan promised that, on their first day in the White House, they would reinstate the “global gag rule,” a spiteful restriction used to deny federal money for family-planning work abroad to any organization that provides information, advice, referrals or services for legal abortion or supported the legalization of abortion, even if that organization used its own money to do so. The mere mention of abortion by any group that provides health care to the world’s poorest and most vulnerable women would not only cost them federal money used to support those broad health care services, but technical support in the way of supplies of contraceptives.

The gag rule was imposed by the last three Republican presidents, beginning with Ronald Reagan in 1984. Both President Bill Clinton and President Barack Obama rescinded the rule once inaugurated.

Romney has also vowed to reinstate another anti-woman policy adored by conservatives. Romney promised to block the United States from contributing to the United Nations Population Fund. The fund supports programs in approximately 150 countries to improve poor women’s reproductive health, reduce infant mortality, end sexual trafficking of women and girls and prevent the spread of HIV.

U.S. contribution to the fund has already decreased approximately $20 million to $35 million annually. Overall support of international family planning and reproductive health programs stands at $610 million, a mere drop in the bucket compared to the need of the world’s most vulnerable. And as we’ve seen time and time again, investing in women’s health and opportunity lifts up communities, especially in the developing world. Educating girls, providing women access to land ownership and giving these girls and women the ability to control their destinies is the way to peace and prosperity. Sadly, that’s a vision that simply can’t compete with the war-hungry defense industry.

Related Stories:

Gag Me: Stop A Global Reproductive Health Disaster

House Republicans Vote To Reinstate Global Gag Rule

Congress’ War on Women: Global Edition

Photo from mckaysavage via flickr.


natalie n.
natalie n5 years ago

for sure, they won't want to lose voters that way. nationalism is strong and the welfare of society is deemed the more important ones to talk about.

Lynn C.
Past Member 5 years ago

Danielle said it for me. Like all the social programs, it's what politicians attack because the arms manufacturers are to powerful to go up against. There's been a lot of graphics put out on the net showing how much of our tax monies goes to "defense". Mind blowing! But fear sells all kinds of things and one of them is a seat in the political arena.

Ajla C.
Past Member 5 years ago


Lynn D.
Lynn D5 years ago

Thanks for information !!

Debbie L.
Debbie Lim5 years ago

Thanks for the post. I don't understand why anyone would vote for Romney. He's basically neglecting help to half the world's population, women.

Mari Garcia
Mari Garcia5 years ago


Nicole Weber
Nicole W5 years ago


Linda McKellar
Past Member 5 years ago

Foreign policy MUST include education and the lifting of the yolk of oppression on women WORLDWIDE! Half of the population of this entire planet is treated like shit on a boot, dirty and underfoot. ALL women of the world need to stand up and be counted. The backward men in this world would shit their pants. (Note, the BACKWARD men, not all men) Why do you think the Taliban shoots a 15 year old girl? THEY ARE AFRAID OF HER! Not unlike the KKK lynching black folks in the South in the past. What if black folks get education and power? We can't label them inferior and stupid and enslave them any more! Can't have that now can we?
Paul, humanitarian aid would be available both at home and abroad to the benefit of all INCLUDING the US if the US would quit spending billions daily on wars that only oppress the poorest of the poor and women even more.

Penny C.
penny C5 years ago


Adam Schmidt
Adam S5 years ago

Romney is actually correct on this although it is hypocritical of him to take that same money to attempt to bribe some overseas dictator to do what we want. Federal government has no right taking our money and spreading it around the world as they please. Where does "federal money" come from in the first place? As for the subject in this article, this should be left to private charities, not government. And anything that the UN is involved in is suspect. Leave it to Jessica to turn this into a promotion for her narrow groupthink mentality.