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January 23rd, 2009
06:11 PM ET

Obama issues executive order reversing GOP abortion policy

Suzanne Malveaux
CNN White House Correspondent

President Barack Obama will issue an executive order Friday afternoon reversing a controversial abortion policy from the past three Republican administrations, a senior administration official said.

The order comes the day after the 36th anniversary of Roe v. Wade - the 1973 Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion in the United States.

The order reverses the "Mexico City policy," initiated by President Ronald Reagan in 1984, canceled by President Bill Clinton and reinstated by President George W. Bush in 2001.

The policy prohibits U.S. money from going to international family planning groups that promote or provide information, counseling, or referrals about abortion services. It says any organization that receives U.S. family planning funds from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) cannot offer abortions or abortion counseling.

The policy - referred to by critics as "the global gag rule" - was initially announced at a population conference that took place in Mexico City.

Reversing the previous administrations' stance on the policy was one of Clinton's first acts as president in January 1993 and the very first executive order issued by Bush on January 22, 2001 - the 28th anniversary of Roe v. Wade.

Critics, including Planned Parenthood, called Bush's move a "legislative ambush."

He defended his action, saying, "It is my conviction that taxpayer funds should not be used to pay for abortion or actively promote abortion."

The group Population Action International praised Obama's move, saying in a news release from spokesman Tod Preston that it will "save women's lives around the world."

"Family planning should not be a political issue; it's about basic health care and well-being for women and children," it said. "... 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."

soundoff (17 Responses)
  1. CJ

    If President Obama truly believes abortion and supporting it, why would he want to sign this executive order without all the media attention. This to me just gives the impression that he his wishy washy with the American Public. How could he place his hand on the Lincoln Bible when being sworn in, yet go against God. ProLife is the most important issue here. America needs to think about it. Full term pregnancy is 40 weeks, yet how many times do we hear of the miracle babies born at 26, 30, etc weeks and live. They are born at 1 lb 9 oz or 2 lbs, etc. You can't tell me that life isn't created at conception. Also, we are in an economic crisis and he wants to send our tax dollars to other countries. What is wrong with this picture? That's fine. I don't mind paying my taxes, but I think we should be able to choose where our tax dollars should and shouldn't go.

    January 25, 2009 at 12:41 am |
  2. Korinna

    You people are so naive. Just because you're a Christian doesn't mean that everybody in America is and we shouldn't have to live under what the Church considers to be proper morals. The rest of us are sick and tired of having to be sure we don't accidentally insult the Religious Right, giving them whatever they want, while they certainly don't hold back their comments about us.

    Education or not, humans will remain humans. They will not always be as careful as they should and will make mistakes. Would you rather have young American girls getting risky abortions illegally? Organizations like Planned Parenthood don't exist to promote abortion. They are there to help a scared girl make an informed decision that is right for her. They also provide education on safe-sex practices to prevent reaching the point where a woman is considering abortion.

    I think it shows that Obama is the forward thinker. He wants to protect the safety of women. He isn't denying a very real part of life and trying to cover it up with an idealistic notion.

    January 24, 2009 at 4:14 pm |
  3. beverly leeson

    how can someone with any conscious approve any bill on abortion i am a firm believer that life begins at conception. shame on you president obama. these fetus are just like abused children niether one can protect themselves. they need an overseer and you just let them down.

    January 24, 2009 at 1:23 am |
  4. Jim,California

    Strike one- Mr. President Yes it is your desisiion to make & Your the one who must stand before God & give an account of this decision.

    January 23, 2009 at 11:53 pm |
  5. francine

    Why was this guy elected into office anyway?maybe bc hes black,well half black anyways,but black ppl will refuse to acknowledge that fact .Every1 wants a big change,oh and what would that change be exactly?oh,yeah the releasing of over 500 inmates @ gitmo , some of them being anti-american terrrorists.!! his name barack hussein obama just sounds bad, he supports and passes a law for abortion whuch is a horrific thought that i cant even fathom ,ugh i dont know if this is gonna be the great change that every1 anticipated.GOD BLESS AMERICA!!!

    January 23, 2009 at 10:50 pm |
  6. Jackie Huskey

    I was dismayed to see that President Obama reversed this presidential order regarding abortion. But if Christians really want to end abortion, they should spend as much time telling others about the love of Jesus Christ as they do bad mouthing and condemning politicians and judges. If there was a heart change towards Jesus in this country/world, there would not be the demand for abortion, whether it was legal or not. We Christians should stop pointing the finger at our leaders and start looking at ourselves.

    January 23, 2009 at 10:42 pm |
  7. Anna R.

    So the president signed this bill behind closed doors so to speak, without the press. Science has proven that life begins at conception-DNA begins then.
    What's next? How soon before women will be encouraged to get pregnant so that they can abort their own babies and sell their stemcells for profit.
    Abortion is already a million dollar industry in this country. We all know that very,very few abortions are a result of rape or incest. Let's be honest-most abortions are simply birth control.
    Abortion is a pretty word for murdering our own flesh and blood. A woman who has an abortion is not making a decision about her own body. She is making a decision to rip apart someone else's body and spirit, her own child's.
    Let's call it what it really is.

    January 23, 2009 at 10:32 pm |
  8. Heather

    This is not a christian nation, and the sooner more people realize that there ARE choices beyond adding to the overpopulation problem the better. Do we really want more mothers whose lives are endangered by carrying a child that they don't want, that they can't support? Does GOD want more people in the world starving and suffering? GOD helps those who help themselves, and if the best way to help yourself is to have an abortion, that's for YOU to decide. Answer for your OWN actions, and don't force your beliefs on others. The only thing that I see as barbaric is not allowing an informed choice to be made by the individual. The vatican does not rule our country, and I'm quite happy about that. We are a people of science and logic, and we need to be even more so if we're going to address and confront the problems that have grown in this country and in the world for so long and have been ignored.

    January 23, 2009 at 8:24 pm |
  9. Lisa

    Forcing one's beliefs onto others who may not believe as you do does not solve the problem. If one wants an abortion, one will get it - and the outcomes may not bode well for either mother or potential life.

    What has happened all to often is to having reduced/cut if birth control is offered/counseled. It cannot be an "either or" environment. Funding should be provided with an emphasis placed on education with regards to abstinence AND birth control.

    Shouldn't the goal to be reduce and/or eliminate the need for abortion? Shouldn't all sides be working towards that end?

    January 23, 2009 at 7:15 pm |
  10. Calonie J

    By the way, if your undeveloped child could speak (which the poor, helpless thing can't), what do you think it would ask or tell you before it's lfe is taken without IT'S permission? Forget Mom's permission...and another question: if your mama was so good to go through with having you and you got to blessed enough to mature and pursue your life's desires, how SELFISH are you to not pass this divine opportunity on? How sinful can you be?

    January 23, 2009 at 7:12 pm |
  11. Kim Hays

    President Obama,
    Please reconsider your position regarding overturning the Mexico City policy. You claim to be a devout Christian yet you approve of extinguishing the blessing of a child. You encourage personal accountability and responsibity; is abortion the message to send as an example? You claim you want to be an example to the world and restore our nations credibility yet you allow our most vulnerable (the unborn child) to be ripped apart in the womb. You ask that terrorist be treated humanely; why is that compassion not given to the most fragile of life? Please make me understand the conflicts between your so called family values and your policies, and then ask me for your support.

    January 23, 2009 at 7:12 pm |
  12. Calonie J

    I admire President Obama for many reasons, but condoning early term abortions isn't one of them. One thing I could never stand is when people argue about when is the life forming inside a woman considered a human? And all that "potential" human bologna. If you are a human, whom most likely slept with another human (and not a monkey, a dog, a cow, a bird), you're gonna have a human baby. From the JUMP it is a God-given human life that is continuously DEVELOPING until it looks like us – remember when we were like that? We were all once that way and look how we ALL turned out – human – whether born missing a limb, or born perfect, or born having encephalitis, we ALL TURN OUT HUMAN. So stop excusing abortions with these stupid, sinful theories. Theories made up to erase the GUILT.
    I applaud the ideas of family planning and other counseling to at least inspire someone to think before getting in a situation where they make excuses to do wrong.

    January 23, 2009 at 7:06 pm |
  13. MissRobinson

    What we guys are failing to realize is that President Obama is giving these women the freedom to make whatever choice is right for them just as God does. I wouldn't dare abort a child but neither would I judge you for doing so because thats for God to deal with not me or the President. God doesn't thump you on the forehead and say do not have intimacy with anothers hubby or wife but some does and there isn't a law about it. I understand its the principal of a life being taken I understand but whose ever making that decision we are not going through what they're going through, and may God Bless them along with the rest of America. I'm not perfect...Are you? If so you don't need God, the president or anyone else.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:52 pm |
  14. Sharon, LA, CA

    No one has the right to tell another what she (or he) can do with their body. Forcing more unwanted babies into the world is only going to lead to more lives ruined. Everyone is entitled to their religeous beliefs – but they don't have the right to ram them down other's throats. This is a good decision. Now we need the education to go with it.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:50 pm |
  15. jss

    What a sad day indeed. It is our place to protect the unborn, children, elderly, sick & poor. We shall continue to pray for our new leaders, but he must stand before God & answer for those actions & those who help allow it.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:41 pm |
  16. Tammy, Berwick, LA

    You can provide family planning without the murder of an unborn life being part of it. You can help women make healthy sexual and reproductive choices without killing the fetus as an option. You can promote women's health without promoting death for an innocent who has no voice in whether or not he or she survives. Apparently Bush was the forward thinker here, and Obama is the barbarian willing to allow the taking of the most vulnerable of earth's citizens. Whatever hope I had for Obama actually proving his worth as a president and humanitarian was lost here. When you are willing to provide funds to kill those who cannot speak for themselves, you are admitting how little human life really matters to you. Here's hoping the Vatican rips him for this one.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:30 pm |
  17. dft@USA

    Does Obama not know that God detest this great sin of abortion?
    He says in Proverbs Ch: 6 this is one of six things that I hate –
    the shedding of innocent blood, it will bring a curse on our land
    The Book of Proverbs should be a required for all people to live
    by, it is God's message and guide to live and not die.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:21 pm |