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

Obama issues executive order reversing GOP abortion policy

Obama has reversed the Mexico City policy.

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. Danielle

    Great – all women around the world should have a CHOICE.

    January 23, 2009 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  2. Ohio Democrat

    This is very pleasing. You are not a viable person until well after the first trimester. There is no magical wizard in the sky and these clumps of cells will never know the difference. They are not people yet. Thank you President Obama. Progression, intelligence, and logic will prevail.

    January 23, 2009 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  3. Alex_58

    Thank you mac!!! I am anti-war and pro-life. I recognize that there are children out there that are born into a tough existence (poor health care, education, etc.). I recognize that the mothers of these children face extreme challenges.

    What is baffling to me is that the "pro-choice" solution to these challenges is to KILL the unborn child. That is wrong, regardless of how many times you say the words "freedom" and "right" and "liberated woman" (the list goes on).

    For the record, I am in favor or abortion when the medical provider recommends it as the only alternative that will spare the life of the mother when both the mother and child are in danger.

    January 23, 2009 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  4. Tom

    "women dying from high-risk pregnancies because they don't have access to family planning"

    Why is that the US's problem that "High risk" adults are having sex??

    How about funding the children and adults in the US who don't have a home and stop paying for any other countries problems. If people die because the population is to large or are having to many kids ever think that the world is telling us something?

    January 23, 2009 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  5. J

    I think the issue here is not whether abortion is evil or not, but whether we should force people who *do* believe abortion is wrong to have their tax dollars spent on it.

    Even though I'm pro-choice, just as I resent having my tax dollars spent on a war in Iraq that I believe to be unjust, I understand how people would object to having their tax dollars spent on abortion, and therefore I'm not certain we should be spending federal money on something so controversial. If people believe very strongly in abortion access, they can donate money voluntarily to support that cause instead of advocating spending others' tax money.

    January 23, 2009 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  6. From Marc to Mac

    'With the science we have today we know that life begins at conception. Those cells (if left to develop) will never be anything other than a human being.'
    The origin of life is still controversial to SCIENTISTS, religious folks have already made their point of view but not the scientist. This believe of yours is endorsed by those who oppose stem cell reasearches besides abortion, but it's a belief.
    And this it's not (yet) 'a nation of me me me' as you have put it. But if we start to impose the beliefs of a portion of the society on all of the society where will we end? A nation of MY beliefs are better than yours so SHUT UP cause you have NO RIGHTS AT ALL to go against them!

    January 23, 2009 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  7. Pepou

    Thank you Mr. President. Finally a reversal of that outrageous policy which was dangerous and totally ineffective.
    To those who cry about "unborn children" : If you are pro-life, how come you support war and death penalty ?

    January 23, 2009 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  8. Pepou

    If you are against abortion, don't have one.

    January 23, 2009 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  9. Empty people voted for an empty suit

    If this would mean that only Liberals were aborted I would be all for it.

    This has NOTHING to do with the war, it is apples and oranges.

    And for the geniuses who use the "how can you be for the death penalty and be pro-life" talking point, let me see, babies INNOCENT, murderers GUILTY.

    No bible thumper here, so save that talking point. I served my country proudly and simply believe that killing a baby as a matter of convienience is MURDER.

    Rape, incest or if the Mothers life is in danger is a whole other matter,

    January 23, 2009 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  10. Patrick

    If you are pro-choice can you please explain this to me; why should the tax money of those who consider abortion to be murder be spent on abortion? If you personally are OK with abortion fine, but why take my money and use it for what I consider murder? Let's keep government out of this completely. Laws are one thing, funding is another.

    January 23, 2009 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  11. couple

    Well said Jimmyp!

    January 23, 2009 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  12. arc, Lugano CH

    Lori January 23rd, 2009 6:53 pm ET
    I am pleased that President Obama did this. I can tell you that in my travels to various countries across the world, women in developing countries have many reasons for wanting abortions (poverty, family violence, rape, incest, etc.). Unless you are in their shoes, you should not speak for them.
    Lori, thank you for your insight. I agree with you as one who has also travelled and met many women and young girls who have been mistreated sexually in ways that many people who have never travelled outside the United States could not even fathom as day to day reality. Well said, mon ami!

    January 23, 2009 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  13. Patrick

    Let's finally work towards some solutions about abortion this is my proposition for a reasonable solution:

    -All partial birth and late term abortions are totally illegal – at this point there is no debate that the fetus is an alive human being that can feel pain
    -2nd trimester abortions can only be allowed in case or rape, incest, and the health of the mother
    -1st term abortions will be left up to the various states to decide if they should be illegal there.

    Is this not reasonable. Pro-choice and Pro-Life people won't be totally satisfied with this but I feel like this would be a step in the right direction.

    January 23, 2009 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  14. Kirsten

    I was overjoyed to hear the loud chants O-bama at the inauguration but then it struck me -do to choice 43 million babies were silenced-their crys heard only in the womb

    January 23, 2009 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  15. aware

    Change Americans can't believe in!

    Abortion or killing tiny babies for convenience

    Universalism or all ways or no way – is all the same

    Pandering to terrorists

    Increasing the deficit ++++++++++++with no good plan/reason

    Leaders with no moral center

    Just to mention a few PBO changes 😦

    January 23, 2009 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  16. REHF

    The dollars being used to murder the unborn could be better used to help the homeless and the poor in our country. I object to the overturning of this policy.

    January 23, 2009 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  17. Joe the Troll

    "And he did it in secret! So much for "transparency in government" and fiscal responsibility. Which campaign contributor is he paying off with this move?"

    Since it happened today and we know about it, I'd say it isn't much of a secret.

    January 23, 2009 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  18. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    It's a new day, so everybody hold onto your seat. Obama isn't done fixing what's wrong.

    January 23, 2009 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  19. mamanomia

    and I suppose that those of you outraged at the decision by our president...were all outraged at every innocent death caused by the last administration in Afghanistan and Iraq...

    January 23, 2009 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  20. Observant

    I am very please that Obama reversed the global gag rule. The countries are receiving the money anyway, they were just not allowed to discuss abortion options with women. It is still the woman's choice. Besides, I would much prefer that my tax dollars are going to help women make a choice in their life, rather than spending billions of dollars on "Just Say No" and watching the increase in babies (teenagers) having babies. So for everyone that is crying about your tax dollars are you saying you would rather pay for the support of an unwanted child for 18 years.

    January 23, 2009 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  21. Briordy Meyers

    Apologies for being legalistic, but Roe v. Wade didn't legalize abortion. It found it unconstitutional (illegal) to restrict a woman's right to have one. To say a court case 'legalized' abortion would be like saying the constitution 'legalized' freedom; it just recognized what our society recognizes as universal rights. Also, Roe v. Wade hasn't been the law on abortion in at least 15 years. In a common law system we rely on precedent, and Roe was the first case in a succession of cases regarding abortion. You should be quoting Penn. v. Casey as the law on abortion. Sorry, but its an important issue for the media to be so imprecise on.

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

    This is a SUCH a pressing issue....and non-political...just what the country wants! We need to spend money on overseas abortions. I can't think of ANYTHING more important...less partisan than this.

    January 23, 2009 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  23. liz

    Thank you Mr. Obama. This will save countless lives by furthering the cause of preventing disease and unwanted pregnancy.

    January 23, 2009 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  24. EVOLVE


    January 23, 2009 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
  25. tk1

    He is going to ruin us

    January 23, 2009 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
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