Blog By Barry

January 23, 2009

Obama Revokes Global Gag Rule, Is Expected To Restore UNFPA Funding

Filed under: UNFPA — Ampersand @ 3:55 pm

Back in March, I wrote that I’d vote for either Clinton or Obama, because I was confident that either one of them would restore US funding to the UN Population Fund (UNFPA for short, odd as that may seem). It’s an obscure issue — but the funds will save tens of thousands of lives, as well as helping thousands of women recover from fistula. There is simply no organization providing this kind of essential medical care to women in as many countries as the UNFPA does. ((You can get a background on the UNFPA issue from this post.))

So I’ve got reason to be happy today:

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama has signed an executive order ending the ban on federal funds for international groups that perform abortions or provide information on the option.

Liberal groups welcomed the decision while abortion rights foes criticized the president. Known as the “Mexico City policy,” the ban has been reinstated and then reversed by Republican and Democratic presidents since GOP President Ronald Reagan established it in 1984. Democrat Bill Clinton ended the ban in 1993, but Republican George W. Bush re-instituted it in 2001 as one of his first acts in office.

Obama signed it quietly, without coverage by the media, late on Friday afternoon, a contrast to the midday signings with fanfare of executive orders on other subjects earlier in the week. […]

In a move related to the lifting of the abortion rule, Obama also is expected to restore funding to the U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA), probably in the next budget. Both he and Clinton had pledged to reverse a Bush administration determination that assistance to the organization violated U.S. law.

The Bush administration had barred U.S. money from the fund, contending that its work in China supported a Chinese family planning policy of coercive abortion and involuntary sterilization. UNFPA has vehemently denied that it does.

I’m unhappy Obama did this so quietly, but I’d rather have substance than a press conference. No matter how much I end up hating Obama in a few years time, this one act makes him enormously better than any Republican would have been. Tens of thousands of lives better, in fact.

P.S. I didn’t really talk about the Global Gag (aka Mexico City) Rule, but overturning that is sensational as well. For bloggers talking about the Global Gag Rule today, see: Feministe, The Kitchen Table, Shakesville, and Democracy Arsenal.

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