President Obama on Friday overturned the "Mexico City Policy" that prohibited the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) from contributing money to international family planning agencies that offered abortions or abortion counseling.
"It is clear that the provisions of the Mexico City Policy are unnecessarily broad and unwarranted under current law, and for the past eight years, they have undermined efforts to promote safe and effective voluntary family planning in developing countries," stated President Obama in a press release. "For these reasons, it is right for us to rescind this policy and restore critical efforts to protect and empower women and promote global economic development."
Calling for an end to the "politicization" of the abortion issue, Obama stated that his administration would work to address the needs of family planning efforts in the U.S. and around the world.
"I have directed my staff to reach out to those on all sides of this issue to achieve the goal of reducing unintended pregnancies," said the President. "They will also work to promote safe motherhood, reduce maternal and infant mortality rates and increase educational and economic opportunities for women and girls."
Obama also vowed to work with Congress to restore U.S. funding for the United Nations' Population Fund, already supported by 180 other nations.
First implemented by President Reagan in 1984, the Mexico City policy was canceled by President Clinton, only to be reinstated by President George W. Bush in 2001.
President Bush defended his reinstatement of the policy as evidence of his long-held conviction that U.S. taxpayer money should never be used to promote abortion.
Obama's action came the day after the 36th Anniversary of the landmark Roe v. Wade Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortion in the United States.