Obama lifts restrictions on international abortion funding

January 23, 2009

WASHINGTON (ChattahBox) — With a lot of serious issues to tackle President Barack Obama took some time on Friday to make a policy change that shifts each time the White House changes from one party to the other. The new president will lift restrictions on U.S. government funding for groups that provide abortion services or counseling abroad.

When the ban was in place, no U.S. government funding for family planning services could be given to clinics or groups that offer abortion services or counseling in other countries even if the funds for those activities come from non-U.S. government sources.
It has been called the Mexico City Policy because it was unveiled at a United Nations conference there in 1984 and became one of the centerpiece social policies of the conservative administration of former President Ronald Reagan, a Republican.

Critics call it the “gag rule” because it also cuts funds to groups that advocate or lobby for the lifting of abortion restrictions, so they say it infringes on free speech. They also say it has reduced healthcare for some of the world’s poorest women.

Former President Bill Clinton, a Democrat, rescinded the rule when he took office in January 1993 and his successor, Republican George W. Bush, reinstated it in January 2001.

Critics of the funding ban say the anti-abortion restrictions have resulted in huge drops for funding worldwide to organizations that provide family-planning services and basic healthcare. They say this means many women are deprived of contraception and other health services in poor countries, leading to back-alley abortions and deaths.

Charmaine Yoest, president of Americans United for Life disagrees saying:

“When we wake up every morning to a deepening financial crisis, it is an insult to the American people to bail out the abortion industry.”

“Planned Parenthood is a billion dollar company and they do not need additional resources to burden the American taxpayer,” she added.

It’s one of those issues that seems to continue to split this nation in two.


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