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President Obama’s Repeal of Global Gag Rule a Major Victory for Women’s Rights

Pelavin: “His action is particularly timely, coming just one day after the 36th anniversary of the landmark Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision.”

Contact: Kate Bigam or Jill Zimmerman
202.387.2800 |

WASHINGTON, D.C., January 23, 2009 – Mark Pelavin, Associate Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, today welcomed President Obama's repeal of the “Global Gag Rule.”  Under the Global Gag Rule, foreign family planning organizations that used their own, non-U.S. funds to provide legal abortion services or to lobby their own governments for changes in abortion laws were banned from receiving any U.S. aid for their non-abortion family planning work.  Mr. Pelavin’s statement follows:

We are pleased and grateful that President Obama, in one of his first acts as President, issued an Executive Order to abolish the rule that withheld U.S. family planning funding to overseas organizations that support legal abortion. His action is particularly timely, coming just one day after the 36th anniversary of the landmark Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision. The repeal of the Global Gag Rule represents a major victory for international family planning programs and renews America’s position as a leader in the global community.

Jewish tradition teaches that if a person saves one life, it is as if they have saved the world. In a world where poor reproductive health remains the leading cause of death for women, and complications from unsafe abortion result in approximately 67,000 deaths and at least 5 million serious injuries annually, today marks an important step forward.

Repeal of the gag rule renews America’s commitment to protecting the health and lives of women and the future of families and communities everywhere. We hope this is the first step toward a new era of U.S. partnership in global cooperation to ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health and the advancement of women’s sexual and reproductive rights worldwide.


The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union for Reform Judaism, whose more  than 900 congregations across North America encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, whose membership  includes more than 1,800 Reform rabbis.

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