The executive order by President Obama repealing the global gag rule is welcome news to the poorest women and families in the world.
For the last eight years, the Bush Administration imposed the global gag rule, also known as the Mexico City Policy, that restricted U.S. funding to organizations that provide basic health care and family planning services the poorest families in the world. The result has been more unintended pregnancies, more maternal complications and injuries, less information about HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment and more — not fewer — abortions.
The global gag rule has also prevented foreign non-governmental organizations from using their own, non-U.S. money to lobby their own governments for changes in laws concerning abortion or legal abortion services. In the United States, we hold these rights dear and would not stand for another government imposing such restrictions on our rights to free speech and democratic involvement. The global gag rule has damaged U.S. credibility in the international arena and hampered the participation of women in the political process in their own countries.
Some argue that this rule is about abortion, but it is not. The fact is that no U.S. funds can or have been used to perform or promote abortion services since 1973. The World Health Organization estimates that more than 500,000 women in developing countries die each year from pregnancy-related complications. Today's action by President Obama will help save lives and empower the poorest women and families to improve their quality of life and their future.