Obama's Other Family-Planning Move
President Obama's decision to repeal the global gag rule ("Mexico City Policy") will make a huge difference in the lives of countless families around the world. With a stroke of a pen, Obama has taken a key step towards advancing international family planning and women's health.
But let's also note the other important move Obama made on family planning yesterday.
In a related move, Obama also said he would restore funding to the U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA). Both he and Clinton had pledged to reverse a Bush administration determination that assistance to the organization violated U.S. law known as the Kemp-Kasten amendment.
Obama, in his statement, said he looked forward to working with Congress to fulfill that promise: "By resuming funding to UNFPA, the U.S. will be joining 180 other donor nations working collaboratively to reduce poverty, improve the health of women and children, prevent HIV/AIDS and provide family planning assistance to women in 154 countries."
Thoraya Ahmed Obaid, executive director of the U.N. Population Fund, said: "The president's actions send a strong message about his leadership and his desire to support causes that will promote peace and dignity, equality for women and girls and economic development in the poorest regions of the world."
Indeed, it does more than just send a message; by restoring UNFPA funding, Obama is poised to save some lives.
This never should have been controversial. In Bush's first term, the former president intended to maintain UNFPA funding at Clinton-era levels. Then- Secretary of State Colin Powell told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, "We recognize that UNFPA does invaluable work through its programs in maternal and child health care, voluntary family planning, screening for reproductive tract cancers, breast-feeding promotion and HIV/AIDS prevention." The administration sought the money, and Congress overwhelmingly approved it.