- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 24, 2009

President Obama on Friday repealed the Mexico City policy, a controversial Reagan-era measure that withheld funding to foreign aid organizations that perform abortions or refer women to abortion providers, which had been rescinded by President Clinton and re-instituted by President Bush.

Mr. Obama signed the executive order one day after tens of thousands of Americans protested in front of the White House against Roe v. Wade, on the 36th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion. The decision shows that Mr. Obama will deliver on his campaign promises to be one of the most pro-choice presidents in modern history

Mr. Obama’s move, which had been expected one day earlier, set off a back and forth between pro-choice and pro-life advocacy groups.

Rachel Laser, with the progressive group Third Way, said Mr. Obama’s decision was “a life-affirming, common ground policy that must transcend abortion politics.”

“This repeal is a life-affirming action because it will fight the spread of HIV/AIDS, prevent thousands of pregnancy-related deaths and illnesses, save the lives of countless children due to better spaced pregnancies, and reduce the number of abortions worldwide,” she said.

But Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, said the new president’s decision was a contradiction of the orders Mr. Obama signed Thursday repealing “enhanced interrogation techniques” of suspected terrorists that some believed to be torture.

“While he bans torture on terrorists he’s now forcing taxpayers to export abortions, a procedure that destroys the lives of unborn children,” Mr. Perkins said.

“What a terrible way to begin a new administration: with an abortion business bailout that will exploit women in developing countries for political ends,” said Charmaine Yoest, President of Americans United for Life Action.

After several years on the back burner of the cultural conversation, abortion has been one of several issues to come to the fore in the early days of the Obama administration.

Mr. Obama’s promise to sign the Freedom of Choice Act, which would repeal all state and local restrictions on abortion, such as parental notification laws and measures allowing physicians to deny abortions based on their own faith convictions, came under fire Thursday from congressional Republicans.

“Too much is at stake for this divisive and destructive legislation to move forward and life-saving laws to be rolled back,” read a letter from House Minority Leader John Boehner, Ohio Republican, and 104 other House Republicans.

Mr. Boehner also Friday criticized the inclusion of increased funding for “family planning” in the economic stimulus package, during remarks to the press outside the White House following a meeting with Mr. Obama and congressional leaders.

And late Thursday the Washington Blade, a paper focused on gay issues, reported that Mr. Obama will ask Mark Dybul, the coordinator of President Bush’s program to fight HIV/AIDS in Africa, to resign.

Liberal groups, the Blade said, are concerned that Mr. Dybul, who is gay, would maintain Bush-era conditions that aid money go to groups who promote sexual abstinence as part of HIV prevention.

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