President Barack Obama today signed an executive order lifting a ban on U.S. funding for international family planning groups that perform abortions or provide counseling about the procedure.
The order rescinds the Mexico City Policy, also known as the “gag rule,” which President Ronald Reagan originally instituted in 1984 and President Bill Clinton rescinded and President George W. Bush revived in 2001.
The decision had been eagerly expected by family planning groups, women’s health advocates and others, who hoped it would restore millions of dollars of funding to programs providing health care, contraceptive services, HIV prevention and other care around the world.
The lifting of the Mexico City Policy does not permit U.S. funding to be used to provide abortions but allows funding to resume to groups that provide other services, including counseling and referrals for abortions. Critics argued the policy resulted in more abortions by denying women access to contraceptives.
“We know from available evidence that voluntary access to contraception is the best way to reduce the number of abortions in the developing world,” said Dana Hovig of Marie Stopes International, a London-based group that provides reproductive health care in 43 countries and was denied U.S. funding under the policy. “We now have an opportunity to demonstrate this fact once and for all.”
See: Washington Post