In what was considered a major defeat for pro-life advocates, President Barack Obama lifted the ban on giving money to international organizations that provide abortions or give information about abortions. Obama's actions comes just a day after a series of pro-life rallies marking the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. By lifting the ban Obama ends his first working week in office, a week that has been spent reversing policies of the Bush administration.
The ban on funding abortion groups is known as the "Mexico City Policy." Adopted in 1984 by Republican President Ronald Reagan the ban was lifted when President Bill Clinton came into office. It was revived again during the Bush years and now has been lifted again with Democratic control of the White House. The ban previously prevented the United States Agency for International Development from using tax payers money to fund international groups who provide forms of birth control that include abortion. The bill comes as a victory for several Democrats including Senator John Kerry, Nancy Pelosi and Hillary Cinton.
The ban which is also refered to as the "gag rule" has been criticized for preventing necessary health care to some of the world's poorest women. However supporters of the ban argue that the rule does not prevent access to reproductive health care but only restricts abortions some of which they consider unecessary. Lifting the ban will free money that had been allocated to the U.N. but was withheld by the Bush adminstration. Lifting the ban should come as no surprise. The ban has been lifted and reinstated in accordance with party platforms beginning with the Reagan years. Already, pro-life supporters have lost a key battle and winning the war will prove to be an uphill struggle.