Obama poised to reverse global gag rule

// 23 January 2009

Barack Obama is preparing to overturn the global gag rule, which prevents organisations receiving US aid if they offer abortions, or even information about abortions. Various sources are reporting that Obama will sign an executive order later today, ending the policy.

According to The Guardian:

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.

The rule was signed by President Ronald Reagan in 1984, overturned by Bill Clinton in 1993, and reinstated by Bush. Critics of the rule say it deprives the world’s poor women of desperately needed medical care, while proponents say US tax dollars should not promote abortion.

Meanwhile, the US Senate has just passed the Lily Ledbetter Act, which reverses time restrictions on workers seeking legal redress for pay discrimination – NOW has more on that.

Feministe has a fantastic Executive Order Watch post on the go, tracking the Obama administration’s first moves. Obvious highlights include closing Guantanamo Bay within a year, ending rendition and reversing the Bush-era rulings on what constitutes torture.

Photo by Sarah Deer, shared on Flickr under a Creative Commons license

Comments From You

Suzi FemAcadem // Posted 23 January 2009 at 6:02 pm

I just want to say OBAMA RULES!!! Can we have an Obama please??

On a serious note- I am massively impressed with the speed with which he is managing to overturn legislation which breaches human rights.

Kez // Posted 23 January 2009 at 7:24 pm

This is fantastic news, and a very brave step.

Really impressed by his actions so far.

maggie // Posted 23 January 2009 at 10:17 pm

How long have I waited for this. Obama rules though I really wanted to write this couple rule because I believe they think as one.

Please feel free to ask me to remove my rose tinted glasses but I love them and will not be moved.

Sunny // Posted 24 January 2009 at 3:49 am


tomhulley // Posted 24 January 2009 at 9:49 am

Was it this Obama that you admire?

Barack Obama gave the go-ahead for his first military action yesterday, missile strikes against suspected militants in Pakistan which killed at least 18 people.

The first attack yesterday was on the village of Zharki, in Waziristan; three missiles destroyed two houses and killed 10 people. One villager told Reuters of phone that of nine bodies pulled from the rubble of one house, six were its owner and his relatives; Reuters added that intelligence officials said some foreign militants were also killed. A second attack hours later also in Warizistan killed eight people.


bryony01 // Posted 24 January 2009 at 4:27 pm

Obama is terrific, isn’t he? He’s also approving equal pay provisions penalizing companies that don’t comply. But watch — suddenly there will be a plethora of job description changes as companies try to wiggle their ways out of compliance.

I hadn’t known that U.S. aid was denied to countries for something as important as abortion. Unfortunately, he’s not the pope, too, because the Catholic stance is very strong in some countries that need abortion and contraception information the most. Does anyone know Islam’s stance on contraception and abortion? Or that of India’s predominant religion?

Throwing acid in the faces of girls and women who try to go to school is becoming popular — or we’re just becoming aware of it — in that part of the world. Think of what will happen when women try to go get abortions.

A major obstacle will be training medical professionals — those who are willing, anyway — in the proper procedures for abortion. There will also be the problem of a lack of medical personnel in many areas of the world, probably even in the region where Obama’s father grew up.

We’re not going to like everything our new president does, but he’s certainly starting off well.

By the way, I’m delighted to have found this site. I feel at home already.

Jess McCabe // Posted 25 January 2009 at 9:20 pm

bryony01 – abortion has been legal in India since 1971.

It is illegal in Kenya, which is where Obama’s father is from, but of course there are lots of campaigners in Kenya trying to change that. Generally women have been getting abortions, regardless of whether they’re legal or not, in all parts of the world, for an awfully long time.

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