As an Illinois legislator and U.S. senator, Obama compiled a strong voting record in support of abortion rights.So, President Obama, what will you do to recognize this 36th anniversary of Roe v. Wade? Will you take action to repeal some of the Bush administration's most egregious attempts to block women from this legal procedure?
"The first thing I'd do as president is sign the Freedom of Choice Act," Obama told a national gathering of Planned Parenthood members in July 2007.
Obama added: "On this fundamental issue, I will not yield."
A segment that aired earlier on NPR's "Morning Edition" reviews what Obama can do today to effectively support access to safe and legal abortions, not only in the US but worldwide. As NPR explains it, with the Roe v. Wade anniversary falling so close to the presidential inauguration, the date has become a sort of tug-of-war between pro-life and pro-choice camps; it serves as the first and most public opportunity for a new president to make his mark:
It's...likely...President Barack Obama will reverse at least a few of the anti-abortion policies of George W. Bush.NPR reporter Julie Rovner cites the "Mexico City policy" as the item President Obama is most likely to take action on. Frequently referred to as the "global gag rule," it prohibits U.S. foreign aid assistance to international family planning groups that "perform or promote" abortion.
By now, it's become something of a tradition.
In 2001, just two days after he took office, Bush used the Roe anniversary to issue executive orders reversing some of the abortion rights policies of his predecessor, Bill Clinton, just as Clinton had used his first Roe anniversary, in 1993, to override some of the anti-abortion policies of President George H.W. Bush.
Others are aiming a little higher in their expectations. US Senators Patty Murray (WA) and Barbara Boxer (CA) along with U.S. Representatives Diana DeGette (CO) and Louise Slaughter (NY) are sending a letter to President Obama today asking him to begin the formal process of rescinding the "Right of Conscience" rule pushed through by President Bush in the final days of his administration. As the letter states:
The rule purports to interpret three existing federal refusal clauses...that allow certain health care providers to deny abortion and sterilization services to patients. In fact, the newly finalized rule...goes much further....and could jeopardize womenís access to needed healthcare services, including contraception.Will President Obama act on either of these restrictive policies which needlessly create roadblocks for women by denying them full access to all their reproductive and healthcare options? He's still got six hours or so to make his mark. Let's hope that the evening news cycle reveals a man whose actions as president are as good as his words as a candidate.