(PatRacimora bumped this up from January 22nd to 23rd, after she updated her post with President Obama’s rescission of the Global Gag Order. I visited State’s “What’s New” page and happened to discover a Friday, January 23rd announcement by Secretary Hillary Clinton Friday on the gag order, published in full below the fold – Susan)
UPDATE: January 23, 4:30 p.m. EST] The wait was less than 24 hours after the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. For this we thank President Obama. Millions of women will benefit from having access to information. ABC reported that the President rescinded the Global Gag Rule just a few minutes ago.
Today, the 36th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s ruling to legalize abortion, women earned the right to control their own bodies. That ruling still stands (despite concerns that it could be reversed).
Less well-known than the landmark Roe v. Wade decision is the “Mexico City Policy,” otherwise known as the “Global Gag Rule.”
Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton
President Obama’s repeal of the global gag rule, which has prevented women around the world from gaining access to essential information and healthcare services, is a welcomed and important step taken during the first days of the Administration.
For the past seven years, this policy has made it more difficult for women around the world to gain access to essential information and healthcare services. Rather than limiting women’s ability to receive reproductive health services, we should be supporting programs that help women and their partners make decisions to ensure their health and the health of their families.
As I said in Beijing at the United Nations 4th World Conference on Women, women must not be denied the right to plan their own families. I look forward to working with the President, my colleagues in the Administration, and the NGO community to promote programs and policies that ensure women and girls have full access to health information and services.
Returning to the ORIGINAL POST BY RATRACIMORA:
As described by Pat Bakalian, Executive Director of the Campaign for Gender Equality :
A gag rule preventing federal money from going to international family planning groups that counsel women on abortion, perform the procedure, or advocate abortion access was first put in place by President Ronald Reagan during a population conference in Mexico City in 1984. It has had devastating effects on women in all parts of the world. It is well documented that the health and nutrition status of women and children is linked to family size. Maternal and infant mortality rises with the number of births and with births too closely spaced. President Bill Clinton rescinded this rule in 1993, stating that it had undermined efforts to provide safe family planning in foreign nations. In 2001, George W. Bush reinstated the policy.
As recently as yesterday, the news was that President Obama would overturn the Mexico City Policy today. Fox News announced:
President Obama will issue an executive order on Thursday [today] reversing the Bush administration policy that bans the use of federal dollars by non-governmental organizations that discuss or provide abortions outside of the United States. Obama will sign the executive order on the 36th anniversary of the landmark Roe v. Wade Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortion in all 50 states.
Well, apparently not. According to CBN ,
A source with knowledge of the situation says the fact that Obama will not issue this executive order today (on the same day of the huge March for Life rally in DC) sends a strong signal to religious leaders across the political spectrum that President Obama wants to set a different tone in Washington.
It is unclear whether Obama intends to reverse the Mexico City Policy at some point in the future but this reliable source tells me that this move signals that Obama will stress the need for reducing abortions in this country rather than focus on the divisive tit for tat policy reversals of the past. As a matter of fact, President Obama may actually release an abortion related statement today about this need to reduce them. The point here is that President Obama has opted out of the “in your face” politics of the past. He may reverse Mexico City Policy at some point. Many on both sides of the abortion debate expect he probably will at some point but today is a day where Obama took the more tactful and less confrontational approach.It looks like the debate over abortion is now shifting to not just how to reduce abortions but also to women’s health issues. Clearly, the Obama administration is showing that it has other priorities that they want to focus on and for a President who has said he wants to be inclusive this would be a bold move in that direction.
So, if the Christian Broadcasting Network has it right, women around the world will just have to wait, for how long is unclear. I hope that that missing what would have been an historic day for reversing this policy was not a stalling technique or an attempt to placate the anti-choice crowd. Let’s watch and see.