website statistics

Will the Obama presidency mean an end to the global gag rule?

Quick – what was the first act of George W. Bush's presidency? What was the very most important not-a-second-to-waste top of W's to-do list?

Ten points if you said he established the Global Gag Rule. Which is: If your international family-planning or reproductive health organization counsels on abortion, provides abortions or even lobbies to make abortion legal in your country, you don't get a penny of funding from the US government. Nothing. And even if you don't have anything to do with abortion, if you're accepting funding from a source that does, you're also out of luck.

Although the Bush administration has spent more money on global AIDS programs than any other, the funds have come all bundled up in the Abstinence-Only agenda. As in the US, one of the main goals of the programs have been to discredit the effectiveness of condoms – with the same lousy results.

According to a Bloomberg News story, Susan F. Wood, co-chairman of Obama's advisory committee for women's health said:

President-elect Barack Obama will reverse U.S. family-planning and AIDS-prevention strategies that have long linked global funding to anti-abortion and abstinence education...Requirements that health workers emphasize abstinence from sex and monogamy over condom use have set back sexually transmitted disease prevention and family planning globally.

Some think Wood should be the next commissioner of the FDA. She certainly has some experience with the agency:

Wood resigned as the top U.S. regulator for women's health in 2005 in protest of the Food and Drug Administration's delay in clearing over-the-counter sales of the "morning after'' emergency contraceptive. Sale of the pill, called Plan B, without a prescription was held up for more than two years, after FDA staff recommended its approval in 2003.