Washington DC –U.S. President Barack Obama lifted the Global Gag Rule, also known as the "Mexico City policy," which prohibited U.S. funding for international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to provide life-saving family planning services.
The Global Gag rule was a U.S policy that required foreign NGOs to agree they would not "perform or promote abortion" in exchange for family planning assistance from the US Agency for International Development (USAID). Specifically, they could not use their own non-US funds to provide information on request to pregnant women about the option of legal abortion, provide legal abortion services, or engage in any abortion-related public policy debates.
President Obama also restored funding to the United Nations Population Fund: "I look forward to working with Congress to restore U.S. financial support for the U.N. Population Fund. By resuming funding to UNFPA, the U.S. will be joining 180 other donor nations working collaboratively to reduce poverty, improve the health of women and children, prevent HIV/AIDS and provide family planning assistance to women in 154 countries."
UNFPA Executive Director, Thoraya Ahmed Obaid welcomed President Obama's decision to restore funding. "The President's actions send a strong message about his leadership and his desire to support causes that will promote peace and dignity, equality for women and girls and economic development in the poorest regions of the world. And access to reproductive health is at the core of all of these issues."
There is much to be done. More than halfway towards the 2015 target date for the Millennium Development Goals, the goal that addresses improving maternal and reproductive health has made the least progress and is the most underfunded.
"We are confident that under the new President's direction, the U.S. will resume its leadership in promoting and protecting women's reproductive health and rights worldwide," said. Ms. Obaid. "If women are to stop dying in childbirth and if reproductive health for all is to become a reality, we need increased political and financial commitment at all levels to implement strategies that we know will work. With the renewed US support to women and to UNFPA, the odds of that happening are greatly improved."
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