Saturday, January 24, 2009

Ban on US abortion funding lifted as Bush ideology is rolled back.

It's a political football which has been batted back and forth between the two parties since Ronald Reagan introduced it at a conference in Mexico City in 1984.

So now it is Obama's time to bat it back towards the other side.

President Barack Obama lifted the ban on US funding for international organisations that offer advice or perform abortions yesterday, as he expanded his project of rolling back George Bush's ideological agenda.

Obama quietly signed an executive order late yesterday afternoon repealing the ban, called the "global gag rule" by family planning organisations because it prohibited groups from even discussing abortion.

There was no media coverage of the signing, in contrast to the high-profile ceremonies this week when Obama issued his orders on ethics reform and Guantánamo Bay.

Instead, he adopted a non-confrontational approach to his repeal of the ban, waiting until after Thursday's anniversary of the Roe v Wade supreme court decision on abortion to avoid antagonising pro-life groups.

Both Clinton and Bush chose to bat this particular political football on the anniversary of the Roe versus Wade decision, but Obama has decided not to do so, opting for a much less confrontational approach. But the reaction has been as divided as usual:

Family planning organisations praised the decision to lift the ban. Diana Hovig, the chief executive of Marie Stopes International, said that the Bush era policies had been a disaster; under them, her organisation, as a provider of sexual healthcare services, had been denied funding. "This marks the beginning of a new era of realism over dogma in serving the public health needs of women. President Obama is off to a flying start."

Christian and anti-abortion organisations were scathing.

"Yesterday, President Obama issued executive orders banning the torture of terrorists, but today signed an order that exports the torture of unborn children around the world," said Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council.

Obama is also expected to lift the restrictions on federal funding for stem cell research, a move which he hinted at in his inaugural address when he stated, "We will restore science to its rightful place", which was an obvious put down of Bush's insistence that the US must remain behind the rest of the world in researching this vital area.

He's doing the right things, whilst trying not to rub people's nose's in it. He's off to a great start.

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