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Sends message that quality reproductive health care is crucial for women

LOS ANGELES – President Barack Obama kept his promise to be a strong and reliable advocate for women’s reproductive health Friday by lifting the dangerous “global gag rule” just three days after his inauguration. This action by the new administration sends a message to both the national and international communities that access to birth control, education and safe abortion care are a crucial part of a healthy future for all women.

Former President George W. Bush, on his first day in office in 2001, reinstated the restrictive "global gag rule." Under this Reagan-era prohibition, no U.S. family planning assistance funding could be given to organizations that provide abortion services, offer counseling and referral for abortion care, or advocate legal abortion access in their own countries — even if they do so with their own funds.

“This is a truly momentous occasion for women’s health,” said Mary-Jane Waglé, CEO for Planned Parenthood Los Angeles. “By lifting this dangerous gag rule, the Obama Administration is making it clear that women’s reproductive health is a top priority - as it should be. Millions of women world-wide will now have access to the health care they so desperately need.”

Many family planning clinics in poor countries that offer a variety of services have had to completely shut down because of the lost funding. Although women in the U.S. hold the fundamental right to choose abortion, the sobering truth is that 19 million women worldwide have unsafe abortions every year and an estimated 68,000 women worldwide die each year as a result of complications related to unsafe abortions.

“Because of the global gag rule, reproductive health care organizations abroad have faced a dangerous dilemma,” Waglé said. “They could accept urgently needed funds but only if they agreed to deny crucial and oftentimes lifesaving services and information. Lifting the gag rule means women will get the information they need and deserve - and will save lives.”

Planned Parenthood Los Angeles’ mission is to provide convenient and affordable access to a comprehensive range of quality reproductive health care and sexual health information, through patient services, education and advocacy.


Planned Parenthood Los Angeles



Communications: 213-284-3200


January 23, 2009