ACLU Praises Obama’s Decision To Rescind Global Gag Rule

January 23, 2009 12:00 am

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WASHINGTON – Today, the American Civil Liberties Union praised President Barack Obama’s efforts to restore quality reproductive health care for women around the world. President Obama rescinded the “Global Gag Rule,” a federal policy supported by the Bush administration that cut off crucial federal funding for family planning services overseas.

"President Obama’s decision to rescind the Global Gag Rule helps to restore America’s place as a global leader on reproductive health and rights,” said Caroline Fredrickson, director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. “This move underscores the country’s deep-rooted commitments to free speech and democratic participation. The Bush policy cut off U.S. support for desperately needed family planning services – including contraceptives, HIV-AIDS prevention, and maternal care – simply because an organization used its own money to advocate for better reproductive health care."

The Global Gag Rule, also known as the Mexico City Policy when President Reagan first imposed it in 1984, denies U.S. aid to foreign non-governmental organizations that use their own funding – not funding given by the U.S. government – to advocate for safe and legal abortion care, to perform legal abortions in their own countries, or to counsel and refer women for abortions.

"By lifting the Global Gag Rule, President Obama has given a clear signal that his administration understands the importance of ensuring access to the full range of reproductive health services,” said Louise Melling, director of the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project. “Today’s action is important to the lives and health of women and their families throughout the world.”

The ACLU also called on President Obama to act swiftly to restore and improve access to reproductive health care at home, including ending abstinence-only-until-marriage programming and halting Bush’s midnight Health Care Denial Rule that threatens access to contraception, especially for low-income and uninsured women who rely on federally funded health centers for care.

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