Friday, May 8, 2020

Commentary: Sen. Martha McSally Should Oppose Global Gag Rule

Posted By on Fri, May 8, 2020 at 1:00 PM

Leigh Moyer is an organizer with the #Fight4HER. The Tucson Weekly welcomes guest commentaries. Send yours to

On Donald Trump’s first day in office he signed his Global Gag Rule, an executive order that restricts international health care providers that receives U.S. aid from simply mentioning abortion services. We’re several years and a pandemic away from Trump’s first day in office, so why does this matter right now?

Because people don’t stop needing reproductive health care services amidst a pandemic, and Trump’s Global Gag Rule has already made these services, amongst others, near-impossible to access in communities around the world. As reproductive health services are scaled back to focus on responding to COVID-19, people around the world are forced to forgo health care.

The World Health Organization lists abortion as an essential service; the last time I checked, you can’t pause a pregnancy until a pandemic passes.

Trump’s Global Gag Rule doesn’t just impact reproductive health care services, but all health services. This is because programs and clinics in countries around the world have lost millions of dollars in USAID, leading to staffing cutbacks and clinic closures. These clinics are often the only trusted health care providers in the communities they serve. By forcing these clinics to close, Trump’s Global Gag Rule limits interventions to stop the spread of coronavirus in vulnerable communities around the world. During a health care crisis, do we want leaders who are cutting funding and access to health care?

No. I am ashamed that Sen. Martha McSally (R-AZ) has failed to co-sponsor the Global Health, Empowerment and Rights (HER) Act to permanently repeal the Global Gag Rule and safeguard the right to reproductive health access around the world.

I’m a young woman with a woman senator who doesn’t respect or stand up for my health care rights.

Sen. McSally: Reproductive health care benefits everyone. Losing access disproportionately impacts women like me. I’m in this fight because reproductive rights are human rights, but also because it’s personal.

Just because the country is social distancing doesn’t mean that the attacks against essential health services have stopped. It is our job as activists to remind the essential workers on Capitol Hill to take care of their constituents. If we don’t keep fighting now, we might not like what the world looks like when we get to go back outside.

Knowing that the attacks won’t stop while I’m sheltering in place is horrifying. While social distancing is the opposite of on-the-ground activism, at least we have the internet. In a matter of weeks, my colleagues and I have transitioned from meeting in person to gathering on Zoom. We’ve gone digital. Meetings have moved online. Turns out lawmakers have shuffled into Zoom rooms just like the rest of us. Activists from around the nation showed up for 23 lobby meetings online, asking senators and congress people, face-to-face, to support the HER Act and protect reproductive rights here and abroad. Tucson activists met with staff from Congressman Grijalva’s office and from Senator McSally’s office. Perhaps it should be expected that Grijalva’s staffer was more engaged and excited, but I was surprised at just how completely unprepared Sen. McSally’s Young Women’s and Federal Grants Outreach Coordinator was for our meeting. A cursory google search before the call would have gone a long way and would have allowed us to actually push the issue rather than explain the basics to an uniformed and frankly uninterested staffer. If Sen. McSally refuses to understand the issues she is voting on, what is she doing in office?

Despite the challenges we face from COVID-19, we can still demand that Sen. McSally support the repeal of deadly anti-choice policies like Trump’s Global Gag Rule. We can still make calls, send emails, and tweet like the future depends on it.

Because it does.