FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 23, 2009
President Obama Reverses Bush-Backed Attack on Family PlanningIn repealing the global gag rule, President Obama restores access to primary health services for women and families in developing nations
Washington, D.C. – Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, hailed President Barack Obama for taking swift and decisive action on behalf of women around the world by repealing the global gag rule.
"President Obama's action today reinforces why elections matter and how new leadership can end divisive policies that harm women," Keenan said. "Reversing this Bush-era policy means that the world's poorest women may now have access to vital health services, from prenatal care to contraception. The president's action today reflects the public's call for a focus on commonsense, common-ground solutions that make a difference in the lives of women and their families."
The global gag rule, which former President George W. Bush imposed on his first day in office, prohibited the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) from granting family-planning funds to any overseas health center unless it agreed not to use its own, private, non-U.S. funds for abortion services or counseling. Bush imposed this rule even though federal law already prohibits the use of U.S. tax dollars for abortion services overseas.
The global gag rule has had devastating effects on family-planning services. As a consequence of the policy, overseas groups have closed health centers, cut staff, and raised fees. Thousands of women and families in need of public-health services have been turned away from under funded clinics.
Keenan said President Obama's strong action on behalf of women would incur criticism from anti-choice pressure groups that are hostile to birth control.
"We fully expect anti-choice politicians to distort the facts and make this about abortion, when it's not," Keenan said. "It's unconscionable that the same people who oppose legal abortion also want to block the world's poorest women from accessing birth control and other services that reduce the need for abortion in the first place."
For more information regarding these issues, including examples of how the global gag rule has cut off women's access to birth control, please visit www.ProChoiceAmerica.org.