President Obama has been widely congratulated by women’s groups and family planning organisations for overturning the ban on U.S. federal funding for providing abortion care or counselling abroad.
President Obama’s executive order reversing the Bush administration policy marks a transformation of US politics on the issue of abortion. US abortion politics has had a significant negative impact on the global debate on abortion over the past eight years including in Britain.
The policy, known as the ‘Mexico City policy’ or ‘Global Gag rule’ required any non-governmental organization to agree before receiving U.S. funds that they would “neither perform nor actively promote abortion as a method of family planning in other nations.”
The rule was first introduced by President Reagan in1984. It was continued by President Bush. President Bill Clinton issued an executive order lifting the ban on Jan. 22, 1993. President George W. Bush issued an executive order re-instating the ban on Jan. 22, 2001.
The policy has had devastating consequences for women across the world who have been forced to continue pregnancies against their will or turn to dangerous back street abortion practitioners. Every year, 70,000 women die from unsafe abortions and millions are maimed.
Overturning this ban will be a significant contribution to the lives of women across the world and will be celebrated by all those who value women’s lives.