Obama to restore U.S. funding for international abortion groups
Myanmar News.Net |
President Barack Obama signed an executive order Friday overturning a ban on U.S. funding for international groups that provide abortion-related services.
The decision is expected to re-start debate between pro- and anti-abortion activists, but, the decision will come as a relief to some organizations that believe they were unfairly punished under the rule.
The executive order ends the ban on federal government fundings for international groups that are in any way involved with abortion services, including counseling.
Critics called the ban the "global gag rule" because it forbade medical providers from even using the word "abortion," a source of contention for free speech advocates.
Carmen Barroso, Regional Director of the International Planned Parenthood Federation Western Hemisphere Region, whose organization has received no U.S. money for the past eight years, said the "gag" policy has not only adversely affected abortion services, but also the ability for clinics to distribute contraceptives and other preventative information.
"With less money, family planning associations are less able to provide the services to the people who are most vulnerable, who most need it, because they cannot afford to pay for services," she said. "So family planning programs help women to avoid unwanted pregnancies and therefore avoid the need for abortion. So if anybody is against abortion, they should also be against this policy."
The policy has been reinstated and then reversed by Republican and Democratic presidents since President Ronald Reagan established it in 1984. President Bill Clinton ended the ban in 1993, but President George W. Bush re-imposed it in 2001 as one of his first acts in office.
Yet abortion opponents say anything short of overturning legalized abortion is tantamount to compromise, including the funding.
Meantime thousands of anti-abortion activists marched Thursday from the National Mall to the Supreme Court in Washington on the 36th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the court ruling that legalized abortion in the United States. Many protesters expressed concerns over just how much the Obama administration will change course on women's reproductive issues.
"He is a president, he says, of opportunity and hope, and I'd like to give opportunity and hope to the babies who are being aborted, and also new life to the people who are choosing that path of just sadness in their life," one person was quoted by VOA as saying.
President Obama says he supports Roe v. Wade, and opposes any amendment to overturn the Supreme Court's decision.
Barroso says, with a growing population of young people in the developing world, she believes the greatest need will be for sexual education in order to help women avoid unwanted pregnancies.