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Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest Praises Lift of Global Gag Rule

President Obama’s action reverses eight year gap in services

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Brian Cutler (206) 328-7737


Published: 01.23.09| Updated: 01.23.09

SEATTLE—The supporters, volunteers, and employees of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest (PPGNW) praised the action of President Barack Obama as an order was signed Friday afternoon effectively rescinding the global gag rule, which for eight years has halted U.S. aid to family planning centers around the world that provide or even mention abortion.

“This means international family panning efforts will no longer have to choose between critical funding and informing patients of their healthcare options,” said Chris Charbonneau, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest.

“Planned Parenthood thanks President Obama for taking immediate action on this critical health issue,” added Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “With President Obama, women in the U.S. and around the world have a president who puts protecting and strengthening women’s health first. Just a few days after he’s taken office, we can clearly say that thanks to President Obama, it truly is a new day for women’s health,” she said.

The global gag rule’s origins go back to 1984, when President Reagan first imposed the restrictions. The policy was carried on through the George H.W. Bush administration and was then reversed by President Clinton in 1993 on his first working day in office. On January 22, 2001, newly inaugurated President George W. Bush issued an executive memorandum reinstating the global gag rule (The White House, 2001). This was a highly divisive attack on reproductive rights, coming on Bush’s first full day in office and on the 28th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision, which had legalized abortion nationwide.

But the global gag rule has always been much more effective as a political touchstone than a policy.

When he reinstated the global gag rule, President Bush claimed that it was needed to ensure that taxpayer funds are not used to pay for abortions in other countries. But since 1973, the Helms Amendment has banned the use of U.S. taxpayer funds for abortions overseas. Instead, the rule defunds health centers that provide abortions through their own funds, even though the bulk of their work is in reproductive health and family planning.

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Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest is the region’s leading sexual and reproductive health care provider and advocate. We believe everyone has the right to choose when or whether to have a child, and that every child should be wanted and loved. Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest operates 28 health centers in Alaska, Idaho, and western Washington, providing medical services and sexuality education for thousands of women, men, and teenagers each year. Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization.  We rely heavily on support from donors to help sustain responsible reproduction.

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