US President Barack Obama plans to sign an executive order ending the ban on federal funds for international groups that perform abortions or provide information on the option, officials told The Associated Press on Friday.
Liberal groups welcomed the decision while abortion rights foes criticized the president. Known as the "Mexico City policy," the ban has been reinstated and then reversed by Republican and Democratic presidents since Republican President Ronald Reagan established it in 1984. Democrat Bill Clinton ended the ban in 1993, but Republican George W. Bush re-instituted it in 2001 as one of his first acts in office.
The policy bans US taxpayer money, usually in the form of US Agency for International Development funds, from going to international family planning groups that either offer abortions or provide information, counseling or referrals about abortion. It is also known as the "global gag rule," because it prohibits taxpayer funding for groups that lobby to legalize abortion or promote it as a family planning method.
A Democratic official and a senior US official who disclosed the plans did so on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to pre-empt Obama's announcement.