The incoming Obama/Biden administration is expected to address several key women’s rights issues within the next week. Women’s rights advocates are hopeful that President Obama will issue executive orders that rescind the global gag rule and release United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) funding that was authorized by Congress and held up by the Bush administration for years.
The Global Gag Rule prohibits family planning programs receiving US federal funds from speaking about or counseling on abortion. The rule was instituted by President Reagan in 1984, was rescinded by President Clinton, and was reinstituted by President Bush. Government relations vice president at Population Action International Tod Preston told the Los Angeles Times that if the global gag rule is rescinded, it will be a “big victory for women overseas. We know their health has been severely impacted by the cutoff. If you want to reduce unintended pregnancies, abortion and women dying from high-risk pregnancies because they don’t have access to family planning, you don’t do it by cutting off US assistance.”
The UNFPA is a United Nations program that deals specifically with population and family planning and has been denied federal funds from the Bush administration for seven consecutive years. The Bush White House falsely cited involvement in sterilization coercion in China as the reason for this decision, despite repeated investigations determining the accusations to be false.
Also, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and the Paycheck Fairness Act were the first bills to pass the House of Representatives this Congress. The Senate is expected to vote on the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act shortly and it is expected that President Obama will sign it. The Ledbetter act corrects the Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire Rubber Co., Inc. Supreme Court decision (see PDF) that gutted the ability of women workers to sue for wage discrimination.