January 23rd, 2009
03:35 PM ET
9 years ago

Obama issues executive order reversing GOP abortion policy

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/01/23/art.obama22.gi.jpg caption="Obama has reversed the Mexico City policy."]WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Barack Obama will issue an executive order Friday afternoon reversing a controversial abortion policy from the past three Republican administrations, a senior administration official said.

The order comes the day after the 36th anniversary of Roe v. Wade - the 1973 Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion in the United States.

The order reverses the "Mexico City policy," initiated by President Ronald Reagan in 1984, canceled by President Bill Clinton and reinstated by President George W. Bush in 2001.

The policy prohibits U.S. money from going to international family planning groups that promote or provide information, counseling, or referrals about abortion services. It says any organization that receives U.S. family planning funds from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) cannot offer abortions or abortion counseling.

The policy - referred to by critics as "the global gag rule" - was initially announced at a population conference that took place in Mexico City.

Reversing the previous administrations' stance on the policy was one of Clinton's first acts as president in January 1993 and the very first executive order issued by Bush on January 22, 2001 - the 28th anniversary of Roe v. Wade.

Critics, including Planned Parenthood, called Bush's move a "legislative ambush."

He defended his action, saying, "It is my conviction that taxpayer funds should not be used to pay for abortion or actively promote abortion."

The group Population Action International praised Obama's move, saying in a news release from spokesman Tod Preston that it will "save women's lives around the world."

"Family planning should not be a political issue; it's about basic health care and well-being for women and children," it said. "... Women's health has been severely impacted by the cutoff of assistance. President Obama's actions will help reduce the number of unintended pregnancies, abortions and women dying from high-risk pregnancies because they don't have access to family planning."

Filed under: Obama administration
soundoff (293 Responses)
  1. E

    Most of the money goes toward PREVENTION, cutting off the entire funding because you do not like where 10% of it goes is ridiculous and only tortures and kills the helpless women who have no way to prevent the pregnancy in the first place without organizations like Planned Parenthood, and if they cannot have the child, the deserve to have a safe place to go, without judgement, without lectures, where they can choose what they need to do for their own bodies.

    Thank God for Obama.

    January 23, 2009 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  2. Mike, Albany

    Maybe if there weren't so many unwanted children, there wouldn't be so many homeless and poor. I think it's high time for legislation to restrict the number of children any family can have. Overpopulation means more pressure on resources, overcrowding of hospitals, too much demand on the health-care system, water shortages, destruction of the environment,.... All of this means a reduced quality of life for everyone. The true pro-life position should be the one that is concerned with quality not quantity.

    January 23, 2009 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  3. jt

    Finally after 8 years of Bush's corruption and dictatorship, President Obama acting swiftly, and working for people, Think about McCain, OMG, thanks God.

    January 23, 2009 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  4. Anonymous

    How can you call yourself Christian and be pro-choice? Don't give me any BS about separation of church/state. This country was founded on God, morals, and values and should continue to be based on this. Unfortunately, Obama and the left-wing nut jobs that are Christian by name are supporting abortions. AND yes, any abortion that happens because of this executive order, will be the responsibility of President Obama. If that funding were not there l(ike the last 8 years), many abortions would not now be taking place and we (as a human civilization) would not be murdering innocent children because of our inability to avoid temptation.

    What a sad day for this country and this president.

    January 23, 2009 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  5. j

    Those who do abortion should be offered the choice to do sterilization so that it is not done regularly. Killing of an unborn child is not a slight thing. It is very serious and counselling should be given before abortion as well as help in case the person chooses to keep the child.

    January 23, 2009 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  6. Caligirl

    Thank God and thank you Mr President. It's been a really long time since our leaders have shown logic. Thank you for respecting my rights as women rather then the religious right and their agenda.

    I look at it this way, when the religious right starts feeding my children, then they can have something to say about my decisions in such manners. Until then, they can worry about their own pregnancies as well as their un-wed daughters pregnancies and keep their religious agendas out of my medical records.

    January 23, 2009 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  7. ThinkAboutIt...

    When everyone who is against abortion adopts an unwanted child then they can speak. Nobody wins and it costs tax payers more money in the long run to bring a child into a situation (or the world) where they are unwanted, unloved, financial unsupported, etc.

    January 23, 2009 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  8. Blue balloons

    It's either that or White Phosphorous, take your pick.

    January 23, 2009 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  9. Caligirl

    Joyce in Indiana January 23rd, 2009 3:45 pm ET

    Before the pro-lifers go crazy, understand that this does not provide your tax dollars to abort babies. It simply allows tax dollars to go to international groups that provide information about abortions as part of their family planning and women's health activities.

    Since I know that someone will comment that they don't want "their" tax dollars to go to pro-choice clinics, I will add my two cents. I am a pacifist, and I don't want any of "my" tax dollars to go to fighting wars or capital punishment or schools that use spanking as discipline. See how well that works?!

    Well said Joyce. Bravo!!!

    January 23, 2009 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  10. Dave

    While I am all for abortion, I don't think this was the right time to do this. We need to keep our tax dollars at home right now, and that means everything from military aid going to Israel to providing abortions outside the US needs to be stopped. When the economy turns around, then we can help the world, but right now, we have to improve our own borders. I am also disappointed that the government does not have the people vote on such a controversial issue, since it is suppose to represent our majority opinions. I agree with Mobius 100%

    January 23, 2009 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  11. Caligirl

    Empty people voted for an empty suit January 23rd, 2009 3:47 pm ET

    Why not explain what it is about CNN? OK, I will.

    It will alow for our tax dollars to be used for paying for abortions ALL AROUND THE WORLD.

    This coming from he only Senator 9and that includes Diane Feinstein) WHO WAS AGAINST the Infant Born Alive Protections act, the ONLY ONE.

    But he also is the "messiah" who said he would not want one of his children being burdened with a "mistake" if they got pregnant.

    Congratulation to the other 48 percent who saw through this.

    And Bravo to the other 52% that don't give a crap what the right thinks or wants!!!!!

    January 23, 2009 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  12. DSW

    Appropriate Sex Education & Free Contraception would go a long way to resolving many of the "unwanted" pregnancies both home & abroad.
    A question for all these Pro-Lifer's – who is going to look after, protect and take care of these unwanted babies, once they arrive.
    Wouldn't it make more sense to STOP unwante pregnancies BEFORE they happen!
    My tax dollars pay for a war I do not want or support – Adults are being murdered EVERY day too, but there's not such a fire storm about that!

    January 23, 2009 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  13. wanda

    I thought most abortions are Black people....I thought Obama cared for his race and wanted them to excell and become better people for their race.......I can't see this happening if they are encouraged to kill their children....It looks as if he is enjoying his girls and thinks the world of them.....Why would he want any less for his race that voted him in office........

    January 23, 2009 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  14. Steve

    Folks, NO one wants abortions! But making abortion illegal – not funding it – forcing it underground - will not make it go away.

    Women will, just as they have for millenia, choose whether to carry a pregnancy to term.

    Here's what I don't expect you care to remember: Before Roe v. Wade, women in the US were having abortions, and dying of those DIY procedures. Roe v. Wade wasn't made to kill; it was made to save lives.

    Unfortunately, this noble goal has been perverted by conservatives over the years, in their effort to make it appear as if they are "pro-life". They are in fact only pro-life with respect to lives they can conveniently characterize as 'innocent'. Real, complex, 'dirty' life – whether it be that of a mother undergoing a back-alley procedure, or that of a death row inmate – is not worth preserving – despite those lives being equal in the eyes of God to any – ANY- other.

    Want credibility? Get consistent. Pro ALL life, even lives you don't agree with. Till then- please spare the rest of us, trying to muddle through with admittedly imperfect decisions in the real world, your pompous, pious, self-righteous bluster that doesn't work in any world.

    January 23, 2009 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  15. joyce

    Paying for abortions and health costs for other nations is just a start for what we will be paying for under Obama's administration. Add on the Global Poverty Act which Obama co-sponsored in which $65 Billion a year will be added onto what we already contribute to other countries. This same money being given to the United Nations who spent $23 million on the Geneva U.N. building for ceiling art.

    January 23, 2009 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  16. Grant in Canada


    Very well said.

    January 23, 2009 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  17. liz

    Dear Gordhammer,

    Hate to break it to ya' buddy...all of your doom and gloom prophecies have already come true under the Bush administration. So, go on a rampage about something else if you feel inclined to write another novel on a blog space.

    January 23, 2009 09:23 pm at 9:23 pm |
  18. Michael Lane

    It seems ironic to me that Obama and his supporter are so worried about the rights of the terrorist who want nothing more than to kill all of us, oh they go on about the way these poor prisoners have been treated but when it comes to helpless unborn babies it's ok to kill them, water boarding well now that's just mot exceptable for murderers and such but helpless little ones that is our choice what about the babies choice who will stand up for their rights, and you people who say well abortion that's not for me but I can't make that decision for others they have the right to chose, think about what your saying, it's like saying well personally I wouldn't kill someone but if you want to do that it's up to you, any decent society has laws to protect the innocent it's not a matter of choice it's a matter of right and wrong and a lawfull society that protects it's people born and unborn.

    January 23, 2009 11:16 pm at 11:16 pm |
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