Birth control and safe sex were not options under the bush plan.Obama reverses 'global gag rule' for family planning funds
WASHINGTON (AFP) – President Barack Obama overturned what he described as an "unwarranted" eight-year ban on US government funding for family-planning groups which carry out or facilitate abortions overseas.
Shortly after he signed an executive order canceling the restrictions, on the third full day of his presidency, Obama said in a statement the ban had "undermined efforts to promote safe and effective voluntary family planning in developing countries," and that the issue had become too politicized.
The so-called "global gag rule" cut off US funding to overseas family planning clinics which provide any abortion services whatsoever, from the operation itself to counseling, referrals or post-abortion services.
According to Population Action International (PAI), the gag rule resulted in Nepal's largest family planning provider losing two-thirds of its total supply of contraceptives and saw the number of women in Ghana who sought care for complications after an abortion soar after contraceptive supplies were cut off to a large clinic there.
Women in developing countries, where access to contraception is poor, often turn to abortion as a means of birth control, a World Bank report has said.
Tod Preston, vice president of PAI, said lifting the gag rule was "an important step to 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," he said.