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Obama overturns Bush decision to cut international funding for family planning

family-planningWithout a doubt, President Barack Obama hit the ground running this week, putting pen to paper and reversing a Bush administration ruling that kept U.S. dollars from funding worldwide family planning clinics that promote abortion and counseling services related to abortion and family planning. Until today, the law prohibited any organization receiving family-planning funds from the U.S. Agency for International Development from offering abortions or counseling for abortions.

President Obama said he did not want family planning to be used a “political wedge” and refused to continue that “stale and fruitless debate.”

“In the coming weeks, my administration will initiate a fresh conversation on family planning, working to find areas of common ground to best meet the needs of women and families at home and around the world.” — President Barack Obama to CNN

January 21, the day after President Obama was sworn into office, was the 36th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the U. S. Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortion by stating the right to abortion was guaranteed within the 14th Amendment’s  right to privacy.  Even as inauguration crowds dispersed,tens of thousands of members of the right to life movement converged on Washington for the annual Right to Life march, which ended on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court.

While Republican opposition to this decision was quickly voiced in tandem with charges that Obama’s decision was a flip-flop on his earlier statements to work to reduce the number of abortions, it is in fact in keeping with that pledge. Finding ways to fund family planning efforts and create a safety net for women of childbearing age is the responsible approach to 21st century health care.

Population Action International said the move will “save women’s lives worldwide” and that the issue is basic health care and well-being for all women and children. Planned Parenthood, which decried the Bush administration action in cutting of funding, took a similar stance, applauding the move as positive direction in women’s health care.

President Obama, in making his decision, said the move to provide funding to family planning clinics would help achieve the goal of reducing unintended pregnancies, “promote safe motherhood,” reduce maternal and infant mortality,  and improve  economic opportunities for women.

“By signaling his intention to restore U.S. funding for UNFPA, the UN Population Fund, President Barack Obama is signaling his re-engagement with the international community on the critical challenge of improving reproductive health around the worl.”  — UN Foundation President Timothy Wirth said.


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