Students standing outside holding signs on a city street
The sound of powerful chants, cheers, and cars honking in support of reproductive rights echoed down West Broad Street on Wednesday afternoon as activists and community members came together outside of Senator Portman’s Columbus office to protest Trump’s global and domestic gag rules. During the No Gag Rule Rally, youth activists involved with the #Fight4HER campaign delivered boxes filled with over 2,500 petitions signed by Ohioans asserting their opposition to Trump’s Global Gag Rule.   

Trump’s Global Gag Rule restricts international family planning aid and access to reproductive health care, forcing clinics to either accept restrictions on the care they can provide to patients or lose aid. The Domestic Gag Rule bans the use of Title X funding for U.S. family planning clinics that also offer abortion services. 

#Fight4HER is a national grassroots campaign sponsored by the Population Connection Action Fund that aims to repeal the global gag rule and implement new legislation called the Global HER Act. The Global HER Act would block the global gag rule and prevent any future president from implementing such a harmful, restrictive policy through executive order.

Wednesday’s rally featured speeches by Prabh Virk, the #Fight4HER Ohio organizer; Sarah Inskeep, the Communications and Digital Manager at Planned Parenthood Advocates of Ohio; and several #Fight4HER Summer Fellows.

#Fight4HER Ohio activists specifically called out Senator Portman for his ongoing support of these life-threatening policies as they rallied outside his office. Recent college graduate and #Fight4HER Summer Fellow Michael Chene highlighted the growing support for the Global HER Act both in Ohio and across the country.

“The public wants to pass the Global HER Act. We have gathered petitions, photo and written, heard from the public, and have told our representatives that Ohioans want change,” stated Chene. “Today we stand in front of Rob Portman’s office to demand his action on this subject. Senator Portman says that he supports life, but how can he if he supports Trump’s Gag Rule? Previous versions have doubled abortions in these affected countries and almost all these increased abortions were unsafe. How can Portman say that he is pro life when he supports a policy that will result in putting lives at risk while devastating healthcare?”

The global gag rule, which was recently expanded for the third year in a row, was unilaterally imposed by Trump through executive order without consulting or considering the opinions and choices of the people who will be affected on the ground. In fact, research clearly shows that abortion bans and gag orders do not decrease the rates of abortion. In contrast, these policies actually increase instances of unsafe abortion, putting countless lives in danger. It is estimated that up to 31,000 people die annually as a result of unsafe abortion.

Additionally, both the domestic and global gag orders disproportionately and differentially impact marginalized populations including people of color, members of the LGBTQIA community, and people experiencing poverty. The gag rules not only take away people’s ability to make their own decisions about their bodies, but restrict medical professionals’ ability to provide safe and accurate information and services to their patients. In addition to having deadly consequences for abortion rights, these restrictions stifle other vital services like immunizations, family planning and contraception, HIV/AIDs treatment, and much more.

Liz Zeng, a student at The Ohio State University and Summer Fellow with the #Fight4HER campaign captured the passion and dedication of youth activists and advocates who are committed to standing up against restrictions to people’s healthcare and rights both here in Ohio and around the world.

Zeng declared, “Investments in reproductive health and family planning saves lives. We will fight back against efforts to restrict reproductive rights and demand laws that respect, support, and empower women, people, and those seeking reproductive health care here and abroad.”