The Global Democracy Promotion Act, first introduced in 2001, may finally be gaining traction in Congress. The bill would ensure that the United States cannot impose standards on organizations outside its borders that it would not stand for imposing within its borders; allow funding for organizations that provide services that are legal in their own country and also legal in ours; and end the punishment of health care providers that observe the same standards of medical ethics and seek the same freedom of speech that apply in the United States.

This law would protect against the kind of "compelled speech" that was struck down as unconstitutional in the 2005 case Alliance for Open Society International v. United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

About the Bill (from
A basic tenant of US foreign assistance should be to promote democracy, which begins with supporting our own constitutional freedoms in the way we implement programs overseas.  But one clear violation of this premise is the Global Gag Rule, a Reagan-era policy reinstated by President Bush on January 22, 2001. It requires that in exchange for U.S. assistance for family planning services, foreign nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) receiving money through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) must withhold information from women about the option of legal abortion and where to obtain safe abortion services-even if they use only their own funds to do so. Additionally, the groups cannot engage in any public debate or disseminate any information regarding the health hazards of unsafe abortion, express support for any existing laws that support safe abortion, or provide legal abortion services with non-U.S. funding. This policy stifles free speech and prevents medical professionals from offering the full range of legal, medically acceptable options to women. It is contrary to U.S. law and would be held unconstitutional if imposed on U.S.-based organizations. The Administration says that this policy prevents US taxpayer funds from being used to perform abortions, but a statutory provision is in place prohibiting such expenditures.

This bill, which is being sponsored by Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY) and others, is currently under consideration by the House Committee on International Relations.

» Take Action: write your representative via Planned Parenthood Online