In 2017, President Donald Trump tightened the regulations of the Global Gag Rule, a policy that prevents non-governmental organizations from providing legal abortion services outside the United States – regulations that some UNC students are fighting.
Juniors Isabella Mahan and Michaiah Wilson and senior Erica Hennes are all part of #Fight4HER, a grassroots campaign founded by the Population Connection, the largest grassroots population organization in the United States, according to its website.
#Fight4HER’s mission is to block Trump’s Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance policy, his 2017 extension of Ronald Reagan’s global gag rule that restricted NGOs from using any of the country’s $8.8 billion of global health funding for organizations that provide abortion services or referrals.
To counteract this policy, #Fight4HER supports a bill to block it: the Global Health, Empowerment and Rights Act, also known as the HER Act.
“The Global Gag Rule has had a deadly impact on mothers across the world,” Wilson said. “Reproductive health includes so much more than just abortion. It’s simple as wanting to get contraceptives from family planning organizations.”
While #Fight4HER is not a campus-affiliated club, as a grassroots campaign, it does rely on the community, Mahan said.
“This is something for students to get involved with. It is a grassroots organization, so we depend on the community getting involved,” Mahan said. “This isn’t just a women’s issue.”
Hennes, the petition coordinator for the campaign, said that petitioning is one of the most important things the campaign does.
At the beginning of the semester, the campaign had a goal to collect 1,200 signatures on a petition to get the HER Act passed. Hennes said the campaign has reached over two-thirds of its goal with 933 signatures. Petitioning is the best way to find volunteers, she said.
“I definitely think that grassroots activism is an incredible way for people to get involved and make a difference,” Hennes said. “Because a small scale has a ripple effect.”
Amanda Murray, the #Fight4HER organizer for the Research Triangle, said the campaign has gathered 4,000 petitions from North Carolina alone and trained more than 120 volunteers for the campaign this year. In the past, she said the campaign has worked with U.S. House Rep. David Price, D-N.C., to support the HER Act and “to use his position on the Appropriations Committee to do everything in his power to expand family planning acts and increase funding for international planning.”
Murray also said that #Fight4HER has supported candidates running for federal office who were champions of reproductive rights, such as congressional candidates Linda Coleman and Ryan Watts, both Democrats.
Wilson said she got involved in #Fight4HER this school year after speaking with campaigners in the Pit. Next Wednesday, March 6, #Fight4HER will have an event in the Pit for the Day of Action to honor International Women’s Day.
Additionally, the campaign will be gathering petitions and starting social media campaigns throughout the month, including a #WCW(Woman Crush Wednesday) campaign to highlight women in reproductive health and activism, Wilson said.
The campaign will also participate in the Bowl-a-Thon in April for the Carolina Abortion Fund, a fundraiser that aims to raise $100,000 to help residents from North and South Carolina access to abortion care, according to the fundraiser’s website.
Those looking for more information can follow the campaign’s progress on Twitter and Instagram under the handle @fight4hernc.
“We have a unique opportunity as citizens of such a wealthy country to use our resources to improve the human condition internationally,” Murray said. “I think it's so vital that people get involved in their government for things that they care about.”
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