Global Gag Rule Going Down; What About Ideological Abstinence-Only Requirements?


Stacking the federal courts with anti-choice judges. Passage of a federal abortion ban without an exception for the health of the mother. A generation of young people educated about abstinence, only.  Many of President Bush’s harmful legacies for women’s health will take years to undo.  But President-Elect Barack Obama can reverse some of the Bush administration’s retrograde policies on sexual and reproductive health with just the stroke of a pen. And it looks like he’ll do just that, on the global gag rule.  Also known as the "Mexico City Policy," the gag rule, first implemented under President Reagan, bars US foreign aid from any family planning organization that so much as counsels women about the availability of safe abortion, even in countries where abortion is legal.  Rescinded by President Clinton, President Bush but the gag rule back in effect on his first day in office.  Could Obama dispense with it that quickly?  Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, told the Washington Post,
"We have been communicating with his transition staff…We expect to see a real change."

Advocates hope that Obama’s early reforms of Bush administration sexual and reproductive health policy won’t stop with the global gag rule.  Susan F. Wood, former Director of the Office of Women’s Health at the FDA and now co-chairwoman of Obama’s advisory on women’s health says that the emphasis on abstinence in the global AIDS funding bill, PEPFAR, will also come in for scrutiny and reform. "We have been going in the wrong direction and we need to
turn it around and be promoting prevention and family-planning
services and strengthening public health,” Wood told Bloomberg News.

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