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January 23, 2009

Obama Lifts Global “Gag Rule” on Reproductive Health

President Obama has repealed a policy that restricts funding to organizations worldwide with reproductive health services that provide abortion, Reuters reports.

Known as the Mexico City Policy because it was announced at a U.N. conference there in 1984, it cut U.S. government funding for clinics overseas that provided abortion services or counseling for the procedure. It was also referred to as the “gag rule” because it halted funds to organizations that advocated removing abortion restrictions.

According to the article, the United States spends more than $400 million annually on overseas family planning assistance. As of September 2008, 53 developing countries receive that assistance. Critics say that the Mexico City Policy has left many women deprived of contraception and has lead to back-alley abortions resulting in deaths.

The Center for Reproductive Rights reports that some nongovernmental organizations in Ethiopia and Lesotho as a result of the Mexico City Policy no longer offer comprehensive and integrated health care services to people with HIV/AIDS.

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