By Rodney Drinnen, Worthy News National Correspondent
WASHINGTON D.C., USA (Worthy News) -- Pro-life activists were weighing their options Monday, January 26, after President Barack Obama signed an executive order ending the ban on federal funds for international groups that perform abortions or provide information on the option.
Obama reportedly signed it quietly, without coverage by the media, late on Friday afternoon, January 23, a contrast to the midday signings with fanfare of executive orders on other subjects earlier in the week.
The decision was welcomed by abortion rights groups, but condemned by several conservative organizations.
"When we wake up every morning to a deepening financial crisis, it is an insult to the American people to bail out the abortion industry," said Charmaine Yoest, president of 'Americans United for Life', in a statement.
Anti-abortion activist Jim Brown of Louisville said about Obama: "He’s claiming to be a devout Christian, but how can he be when he is all for killing babies?"
Brown earlier led a group of high school students along a route marched by pro-life activists up Capitol Hill last week, to mark the 36th anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court ruling in Roe v. Wade that legalized abortion.
The ban overruled by Obama is known as the "Mexico City policy." It has been reinstated, and then reversed, by Republican and Democratic presidents since Republican President Ronald Reagan established it in 1984.
Democrat Bill Clinton ended the ban in 1993, but Republican George W. Bush re-instituted it in 2001 as one of his first acts in office saying: "It is my conviction that taxpayer funds should not be used to pay for abortions or advocate or actively promote abortion, either here or abroad."
The policy bans U.S. taxpayer money, usually in the form of U.S. Agency for International Development funds, from going to international family planning groups that either offer abortions or provide information, counseling or referrals about abortion.
It is also known as the "global gag rule," because it prohibits taxpayer funding for groups that lobby to legalize abortion or promote it as a family planning method. However, critics of the policy claim the policy also impacts organizations in developing nations who, besides abortions, also provide women access to general health care and contraceptives.
Barack Obama's decision to repeal the ban, came amid pressure from several abortion rights groups, including Planned Parenthood, a health care provider and advocacy organization. "With the stroke of a pen, President Obama has lifted the stranglehold on women’s health across the globe," said Cecile Richards, Planned Parenthood’s president.
"No longer will health care providers be forced to choose between receiving family planning funding and restricting the health care services they provide to women," she added in published remarks.
In a move related to the lifting of the abortion rule, Obama was also expected to restore funding to the controversial United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), probably in the next budget.
The Bush administration had barred U.S. money from the fund, claiming t its work in China supported a Chinese family planning policy of coercive abortion and involuntary sterilization. UNFPA has denied that it does.
"Women's health has been severely impacted by the cutoff of assistance. President Obama's actions will help reduce the number of unintended pregnancies, abortions and women dying from high-risk pregnancies because they don't have access to family planning," said Tod Preston, a spokesman for Population Action International, an advocacy group.
Pro-Life groups criticized the move."President Obama not long ago told the American people that he would support policies to reduce abortions, but today he is effectively guaranteeing more abortions by funding groups that promote abortion as a method of population control," said Douglas Johnson, legislative director of the National Right to Life Committee.
In a statement that accompanied the official Presidential memorandum canceling the former abortion-related restrictions, Obama urged all parties to "end the politicization of this issue."
He said it was time for a fresh conversation on family planning and added his aides would reach out to those on all sides of this issue to achieve the goal of reducing unintended pregnancies.
During his presidential campaign, Obama was quoted as saying with regards to his two daughters, "I am going to teach them first of all about values and morals. However, if they make a mistake, I don't want them punished with a baby."