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Shhh. Obama Repeals the Abortion Gag Rule, Very Quietly

January 24, 2009

On the day after the 36th anniversary of the landmark Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision, President Barack Obama repealed a Reagan-era policy that prohibited foreign nongovernmental family-planning groups from receiving U.S. funds if they provided abortions or even lobbied for abortion rights in their country. It is an action his abortion-rights supporters have waited eight years for and one they had encouraged him to waste no time taking. But by first issuing a statement urging support for common-ground efforts to reduce abortion rates and then waiting to sign the Executive Order late on a Friday afternoon – a time traditionally reserved for the release of information an Administration would like to bury – Obama sent a clear signal that he wants to turn down the heat on an issue that has defined and divided American politics for more than three decades. (See pictures behind the scenes at the Inauguration.)

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