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Akron Univ. School of Law

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Sunday, January 25, 2009

Global Gag Rule Overturned

President Obama overturned the rule banning federal funds to international family planning groups that either offer abortions or provide information about them.  The Guardian U.K. reports,

President Barack Obama today made the most contentious move of his young administration with an order, overturning a ban on federal funds to foreign family planning organisations that either offer abortions or provide information or counselling about abortion.  The rule change continues the dismantling of George Bush's conservative policies. It is likely to encounter fierce criticism from the still robust anti-abortion movement.

It will allow US aid, usually through the US agency for international development, to flow to HIV/Aids clinics, birth-control providers and other organisations that advocate or provide counselling about abortion across the world. It is known as the "global gag rule" because it denies US taxpayer dollars to clinics that even mention abortion to women with unplanned pregnancies. . . .

Family planning groups in America and the UK cheered the rule change. Dr Gill Greer, director general of London-based International Planned Parenthood Federation, estimated the gag rule had cost the group more than $100m for family planning and sexual and reproductive health programmes during the eight years of the Bush administration, which she said amounted to 36 million unplanned pregnancies and 15 million induced abortions. . . .

While both Clinton and Bush used the Roe v Wade anniversary to change US policy on abortion, Obama declined yesterday. He instead issued a statement reaffirming his commitment "to protecting a woman's right to choose".  "On the 36th anniversary of Roe v Wade, we are reminded that this decision not only protects women's health and reproductive freedom, but stands for a broader principle: that government should not intrude on our most private family matters," he said.

The rule comes as no surprise. During the president campaign Hillary Clinton, who as secretary of state will oversee foreign aid, pledged to end the rule. . . .

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