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After Eight Years of Injustice, International Family Planning Funding is Restored

WASHINGTON, Jan. 23 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The following statement of Reverend Dr. Carlton W. Veazey, President and CEO of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice was released today:

After eight years of a policy that contributed to the suffering of women and children worldwide, President Obama has put the United States back on the path of charity, hope and compassion by overturning the Bush administration's global gag rule. Although some political conservatives publicly implored President Obama not to rescind the rule for fear it would rattle pro-lifers, President Obama has reaffirmed that the United States is a caring and humane world citizen and has removed injurious barriers to funding family planning services for some of the world's poorest women.

The Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, the national coalition of mainstream religious and religiously affiliated organizations with official pro-choice policies -- praises President Obama's executive order repealing the global gag rule. Also known as the Mexico City policy, the rule prohibited American dollars from being granted to foreign family planning clinics unless they agreed not to use their own private, non-U.S. funds for abortion services or counseling. The rule also prohibited organizations from lobbying to reform harmful anti-abortion policies and laws.

President Obama also stated that he supports an American contribution to the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) and a prompt release of the funds following the enactment of 2009 omnibus appropriations bill.

Member groups of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice have a heritage of service to underserved and vulnerable communities and a commitment to the well being of families. Denominations including the United Methodist Church, Presbyterian Church (USA), United Church of Christ, the Episcopal Church and the Union for Reform Judaism, among others, have urged the U.S. to support family planning overseas, teaching that wealthier groups and nations have a special responsibility to help and care for persons in the poorer countries of the world, which includes support for the basic reproductive health services.

More than 500,000 women in developing countries die each year from pregnancy-related causes, and 8 million more suffer serious complications, often due to pregnancies that occur at a young age or are too closely spaced. Each year, approximately 10.8 million children under the age of five die, frequently from low birth-weight or other causes related to complications in pregnancy.

The Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice hopes that these orders will be one of many steps the Obama Administration takes to address the reproductive health crisis facing women worldwide.

Family planning clinics provide critical health services to women and families, making it all the more important that they receive support and assistance. Many of these clinics have integrated HIV/AIDS prevention efforts, pre- and post-natal care, and other services into their family planning care.

Members of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice include the Episcopal Church, United Church of Christ, the Presbyterian Church (USA), two agencies of the United Methodist Church, Reform, Conservative, and Reconstructionist Judaism, Unitarian Universalism, Catholics for Choice, and other groups. RCRC's programs include Clergy for Choice, Seminarians for Choice, Spiritual Youth for Reproductive Freedom, the National Black Church Initiative, La Iniciativa Latina, public policy and public information and advocacy.

SOURCE Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice
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