In 2001, President George W. Bush restricted the participation in democratic processes for non-governmental organizations (NGOs) abroad by reinstating a policy restricting family planning funding granted by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The restriction sharply curtailed the ability to speak and to associate freely for organizations working to preserve women's health and lives. For this reason, I refer to the restriction as the Global Gag Rule (GGR). Organizations in Uganda, Ethiopia, and Kenya had begun to identify the problems associated with their countries' restrictive abortion laws. In these three countries, as elsewhere in the world, illegal abortions are unsafe and a major cause of the high rates of maternal mortality and morbidity. By 2001, efforts toward abortion law reform were underway. In 2002, with the institutional support of the Center for Reproductive Rights, I traveled to east Africa to study the effect of the GGR upon the free speech and free association of advocates of access to safe abortion. Uganda, Ethiopia, and Kenya were selected because, in all three countries, stakeholders in the reproductive health of women were working to bring information to lawmakers about the detrimental impact of a restrictive abortion law. Additionally, prior to my departure, I had access to information about stakeholders in these countries. In Uganda, Ethiopia, and Kenya, the ability of stakeholders to communicate with lawmakers is restricted by the GGR.
Advocacy in Whispers: The Impact of the Unsaid Global Gag Rule Upon Free Speech and Free Association in the Context of Abortion Law Reform in Three East African Countries,
Mich. J. Gender & L.
Available at: http://repository.law.umich.edu/mjgl/vol11/iss1/4