Barack Obama once again showed his intention to live up to the hopes of those progressives who cheered him to victory in November by overturning the ‘global gag rule’ last week.
Whilst opening himself up to attack from the powerful anti-abortion lobby in the US, in this move Obama has demonstrated his commitment to women’s rights. The lifting of this ban will make a huge difference to the promotion of women’s health, particularly in developing countries.
The global gag rule prohibits US funding to foreign family planning agencies that give information about or promote abortion. It has deprived women of information about contraception and forced those seeking to end unwanted pregnancies into illegal and dangerous abortions. The Planned Parenthood Federation of America have proclaimed Obama’s move ‘a new day for women’s health’.
A restoration of funding for sex education and cuts in funding for abstinence education are important next steps in rolling back the conservative ideological agenda of the previous administration. We can only hope that last weeks' move by Obama is the first of many in reasserting a woman’s right to choose in America and across the world.