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Let's repeal the global gag rule -- again

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I clearly remember that cold day in January 2001, when George W.

Bush reinstated the global gag rule. And, just as clearly, I

remember looking forward to the day we would overturn it. Again.

Well, Michelle, that day is coming. Finally! This is one

petition you'll want your name on just so that you can celebrate

when -- mind you, I'm saying "when" not "if" -- President Obama

rescinds the rule.


The global gag rule has had an enormous negative impact on women

around the world since President Reagan first put it into

effect. Hundreds of thousands of people like you and me

protested the rule, which mandated that no U.S. family planning

assistance funding can 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.

When President Clinton came into office, he quickly overturned

the rule. And then came President Bush, who made it a priority

to put it right back into effect.

The results have been devastating. Because of the global gag

rule, international reproductive health care organizations have

faced a dangerous dilemma: either accept desperately needed U.S.

funds but deny women life-saving services and information, or

reject U.S. assistance and be forced to cut crucial prevention

services. The Planned Parenthood international program made the

difficult decision to continue to provide the full gamut of

health care services without limitation, thus being ineligible

for U.S. assistance, and we worked hard to find other private

funding sources. But many other programs simply couldn't afford

to do so.

Can you imagine how many women have borne the brunt of this

cruel see-saw? The number is simply incomprehensible -- 200

million women. That's the approximate number of women in

developing countries who wish to delay or end childbearing but

lack access to modern contraceptives. When I add my name to our

petition to President Obama, it will be for them. I want women

all over the world to know that they matter. Please, join me --

and I'll let you know as soon as we get the word there's a

reason to celebrate.

While repealing the global gag rule is a critical step in

recognizing that women's health must be a priority, it's just a

first step. The fight for access to health care and rights is an

uphill one, and there is serious work to be done to rectify

nearly a decade of bad policies not just in the U.S. but around

the world. In the short term, restoring funding for UNFPA;

removing abstinence-only requirements in AIDS funding; and

increasing foreign assistance for reproductive health, including

$1 billion for family planning, will move us in the right


President Obama and the new Congress have their work cut out for

them as they take office. The multitude of problems facing the

country is challenging indeed. The global gag rule? This one's

easy. Let's make sure it happens. Sign the petition.


Thank you, as always, and keep an eye out for upcoming actions

you can take to help us win these battles for women around the



Cecile Richards, President

Planned Parenthood Federation of America


                                               Look at the flowers

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