Is Funding for Family Planning Agencies Coming Back Under Obama?

Obama could scrap the "global gag rule" when he becomes president.

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Bill Clinton scrapped it immediately in 1993, then George W. Bush reversed course and brought it back in 2001 on Day 2 of his presidency. Now there's been speculation as to whether President-elect Barack Obama will immediately chuck the "global gag rule" that currently prohibits federal funds from going to international family planning agencies that promote or provide abortions.

One of the biggest congressional proponents of doing away with the ban isn't completely confident that it will get lifted on Day 1. "I believe, obviously, the first actions of President-elect Obama are focused on the economy, and I think rightfully so, but I know that he cares deeply about women's issues in fairness," New York Democratic Rep. Carolyn Maloney tells Whispers. She tells us she's hoping to give Obama a nudge by personally penning a letter to the president-elect to advocate, among other things, this move.

Maloney is more positive that the United Nations Population Fund, or UNFPA, an organization that had its funding frozen by the Bush administration in 2002 because it supported "coercive" abortion programs in China (an allegation that the UNFPA has denied), will again receive federal dollars with Obama in the White House. "The UNFPA will be funded," she says. "The president will have to do nothing; he'll just have to let the will of Congress go through." Throughout George W. Bush's two terms, Congress approved funding for the agency, and the president continually put his foot down and would not release the money.

—Nikki Schwab