[16days_discussion] It's Official: Obama Ends Global Gag Rule!
kathleen.sloan at sbcglobal.net
Fri Jan 23 12:01:31 EST 2009
We expected it and now it's official - hurrah!!
Global Strategies & Issues
Officials: Obama to reverse abortion policy
By LIZ SIDOTI and MATTHEW LEE, Associated Press Writers Liz Sidoti And Matthew Lee, Associated Press Writers 1 hr 14 mins ago
WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama plans to sign an executive order ending the ban on federal funds for international groups that promote or perform abortions, officials told The Associated Press on Friday.
The move, long expected in the Democratic president's first week in office, will be welcomed by liberals and criticized by abortion rights foes.
The policy bans U.S. taxpayer money, usually in the form of U.S. Agency for International Development funds, from going to international family planning groups that either offer abortions or provide information, counseling or referrals about abortion. It is also known as the "global gag rule," because it prohibits taxpayer funding for groups that even talk about abortion if there is an unplanned pregnancy.
Also known as the "Mexico City policy," it has been reinstated and then reversed by Republican and Democratic presidents since GOP President Ronald Reagan established it in 1984. President Bill Clinton ended the ban in 1993, but President George W. Bush re-instituted it in 2001 as one of his first acts in office.
The Democratic official and senior U.S. official who disclosed the plans did so on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to pre-empt Obama's announcement.
Obama was expected to sign the executive order at a low-key event, one day after the 36th anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court ruling in Roe v. Wade that legalized abortion.
The move was not a surprise as both Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who will oversee foreign aid, had promised to do away with the gag rule during the presidential campaign. Clinton is to visit the U.S. Agency for International Development, through which much U.S. foreign aid is disbursed, later on Friday.
Obama has spent his first days in office systematically signing executive orders reversing Bush administration policies on issues ranging from foreign policy to government operations. But, save for ending the ban, Obama has largely refrained from wading into ideological issues, perhaps to avoid being tagged a traditional partisan from the outset after his campaign promises to change "business as usual" in the often partisan-gridlocked capital.
Rather, Obama has chosen to focus initially on issues in which there is consensus across the political spectrum and support from the public, such as closing the prison camp for suspected terrorists at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to making government documents more accessible.
Organizations that had pressed Obama to make the abortion-ban change were jubilant.
"Women's health has been severely impacted by the cutoff of assistance. President Obama's actions will help reduce the number of unintended pregnancies, abortions and women dying from high-risk pregnancies because they don't have access to family planning," said Tod Preston, a spokesman for Population Action International, an advocacy group.
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