January 23rd, 2009
05:33 PM ET

The global gag rule has been repealed

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/01/23/obama.abortion/art.obama.inspiration.gi.jpg caption="President Obama has decided to overturn a Republican-favored abortion funding policy."]

Nancy Keenan
President, NARAL Pro-Choice America

Well, pro-choice America, after eight long years of an anti-choice administration, we can finally exhale. Just minutes ago, President Obama repealed the global gag rule! Following yesterday’s 36th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, this victory is that much sweeter.

It’s really starting to sink in that having a pro-choice president goes a long way for women’s health and privacy. We say it all the time, but it bears repeating: Elections matter. Pro-choice Americans worked long and hard to help elect a pro-choice president because we know it is the best way to reverse divisive anti-choice policies that harm women and their families.

We know that former President Bush attacked choice plenty of times as president, but the global gag rule was one of his worst offenses. In the short video below, our policy director, Donna Crane, tells you everything you need to know about the global gag rule in 90 seconds:

This policy forced health clinics around the world to choose between providing women and families with health care they desperately needed and getting financial support from the United States. The policy cut off U.S. funds to health clinics unless the clinics agreed not to use their own, private, non-U.S. funds for abortion services, abortion-related advocacy, or even abortion counseling or referrals.

Need an example of how this has harmed women’s health? The Family Planning Association of Kenya, which does not provide abortion, had to cut its outreach staff in half, close three clinics that served 56,000 clients in traditionally underserved communities, and raise fees at the remaining health centers. One of the clinics that closed housed a unique well-baby center that provided comprehensive infant and post-partum care. That well-baby center is now lost to the community.

President Obama has taken a strong stand in support of family planning, and we really need to thank him for this victory for women’s health.

So, as we look forward, we certainly have reason to celebrate. However, we also have to remain realistic, based on the projected choice composition of the new Congress. We've made significant gains, but there's still work to be done.

For more information, please visit www.ProChoiceAmerica.org so we can change the tone of the debate in Congress, with a focus on common sense measures that will prevent unintended pregnancy and reduce the need for abortion.

For an opposing view by the FRC (Family Research Council) click here.

soundoff (4 Responses)
  1. Michelle McGrath

    I am so releived that Obama is prochoice. We have worked so hard as a society to keep women's reproductive rights and civil rights. We cannot go back to the days before roe v wade. I hope President Obame reverses every anti choice law and makes it a constitutional right for women to have the right to choose.

    January 24, 2009 at 5:48 pm |
  2. Sean

    People have said pro-choice or anti-choice. I take the position that there has always been a choice. The choice is education and responsibility. It is as simple as that. If a woman is educated to understand how reproduction works and makes the choice to have sexual relations then part of that choice is the responsiblity of reproduction.

    We know by science and testing when life begins. We can now see it on a monitor in a Doctor's office. The question is not about if a baby is life. This question is answered. Strong women know the answer.

    We know that if we impose our will on someone else it is wrong. If I were to demand people not to abort children on the single reason as it was against my faith then it would be wrong to impose my faith on them. There is not much difference in a mother that imposing her bad decision on not using contraception on a unwanted child except that a death occurs.

    Strong women must look at the facts. Are they not smart enough to make the responsible choice not to reproduce? Are they not strong enough to choose not to harm?

    January 23, 2009 at 11:29 pm |
  3. kaddie

    Finally, a President that actually cares more about people than rhetoric!

    January 23, 2009 at 8:16 pm |
  4. Lisa

    The number one goal for both Pro-choice and pro-life groups should be to reduce and/or eliminate the need for abortions. And that starts with education – education that includes birth control as well as abstinence. As a pro-choice (not to be confused with pro-abortion) woman, I would like to finally see some stipulations regarding education in this area.

    January 23, 2009 at 7:08 pm |