SECOND UPDATE: Cardinal Rigali calls decision “very disappointing.”
Despite some expectations that President Barack Obama would issue an executive order reversing the Mexico City policy on Jan. 22, it apparently isn’t going to happen, at least not today, the anniversary of Roe v. Wade.
The policy prohibits recipients of U.S. foreign aid from promoting or providing abortions. It was established by President Ronald Reagan in 1984, reversed by President Bill Clinton in 1993 and reestablished under President George W. Bush in 2001. Clinton and Bush each took their actions on Jan. 22.
A reversal of the policy is almost certainly going to be ordered, perhaps as soon as tomorrow. But in contacts with some Catholic leaders, representatives of the administration signaled that Obama is trying to be at least sensitive to timing, by declining to announce such a change while abortion protesters were marching in Washington and elsewhere.
Some Catholic leaders who have been in touch with Obama’s staff this week encouraged the administration to pair any such orders — which they see as a rollback of progress against abortion — with an announcement about new efforts to aid pregnant women, or otherwise help reduce demand for abortion.
Late in the day Obama issued a statement reaffirming his commitment to “protecting a woman’s right to choose.” He added that “while this is a sensitive and often divisive issue, no matter what our views, we are united in our determination to prevent unintended pregnancies, reduce the need for abortion and support women and families in the choices they make. To accomplish these goals, we must work to find common ground to expand access to affordable contraception, accurate health information and preventative services.”
The statement concluded by saying “we must also recommit ourselves more broadly to ensuring that our daughters have the same rights and opportunities as our sons” including access to education, fulfilling careers, to be treated fairly and paid equally “and to have no limits on their dreams.”