Friday, January 23, 2009

Obama removes restrictions on abortion funding

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama on Friday will lift restrictions on U.S. government funding for groups that provide abortion services or counseling abroad, reversing a policy of his Republican predecessor George W. Bush, an administration official said.

"It will be today. He's going to make an executive order (lifting the global gag rule)," the official said.

The Democratic president's decision is a victory for advocates of abortion rights on an issue that has become a tit-for-tat policy change each time the White House shifts from one party to the other in recent years.

When the ban was in place, no U.S. government funding for family planning services could be given to clinics or groups that offer abortion services or counseling in other countries even if the funds for those activities come from non-U.S. government sources.

It has been called the Mexico City Policy because it was unveiled at a United Nations conference there in 1984 and became one of the centerpiece social policies of the conservative administration of Republican former President Ronald Reagan.

Former President Bill Clinton rescinded the rule when he took office in January 1993 and his successor, Republican George W. Bush, reinstated it in January 2001.

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