Score Another for Obama: He Lifts Global Gag Order

By Matthew Rothschild

Barack Obama on Friday made good on his promise to lift the heinous global gag rule that George Bush had imposed on his own first day in office.

The global gag rule deprived many overseas health clinics of crucial U.S. funding because they provided reproductive services or engaged in health care advocacy that the Bush Administration and its rabid rightwing base objected to.

As a result, these clinics–which serve as a lifeline to impoverished women all over the Third World–had to cut their services, see fewer patients, or close down.

“Today, President Obama has taken a tremendous step in righting the wrongs perpetrated against women around the world by the Bush Administration,” said Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights. “Unsafe abortion kills nearly 70,000 women around the world each year. The gag rule prevented women’s health organizations that received U.S. funds from advocacy against restrictive laws that lead to these deaths.”

The Center for Reproductive Rights added that the global gag rule “had a devastating impact on health care providers and women in nearly sixty countries.”

It hailed Obama’s decision, which he made by executive order, as “a victory for providers and nongovernmental organizations and for the advancement of free speech and civil engagement.”

NARAL was equally grateful to Obama, and urged people to support his move, since “anti-choice groups are bombarding the White House with messages and running vicious ads on TV and online.”

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Obama, in his first few days, is demonstrating the power of the Presidency to make progressive change by executive order.

He should use that power to the fullest extent.