Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Pro-Choice Progress: A Primer on President Obama's First 100 Days

By Nancy Keenan, NARAL Pro-Choice America
cross-posted at The Huffington Post

Wednesday, April 29 marks the
100th day of President Barack Obama's administration.

As the political leader of the pro-choice movement, NARAL Pro-Choice America will mark this milestone as yet another reminder of how electing leaders who support the fundamental American values of freedom and privacy does make a difference in the lives of women and their families.

President Obama is leading our country during an especially challenging time and many of our family and friends will discuss what's happened during his first 100 days on a number of fronts. When the topic turns to women's reproductive freedom and choice, we want you to be prepared to share the following signs of change:

• President Obama rescinded the global gag rule, the Bush administration policy that canceled U.S. family-planning funds to many overseas health centers and denied the world's poorest women access to birth control. (January 23)

• President Obama re-funded the U.N. family-planning program, UNFPA, which President Bush had de-funded for seven years straight. Obama also signed legislation into law boosting UNFPA funding to a record $50 million. (January 23 and March 11)

• President Obama signaled his commitment to medically accurate sex education by including it in his first-ever budget outline. (February 26)

• President Obama announced his intention to repeal the controversial, last-minute Bush policy known as the Federal Refusal Rule. The regulation could have allowed entire health-care corporations to refuse to provide medical services - including, potentially, birth control. (February 27)

• President Obama signed legislation into law fixing the birth-control price crisis at college health centers and safety-net provider clinics across the country. (As a senator, Obama authored this legislation.) (March 11)

• President Obama signed legislation increasing family-planning funding for American women by $7 million, and cutting the failed "abstinence-only" programs by $14 million. (March 11)

• President Obama signed legislation increasing international family-planning funding at the USAID by more than $30 million. (March 11)

We have reason to celebrate after reading this list, but let's not forget that we're marking the first 100 days of what will be a long and bumpy road to progress. There will be budget debates, a possible vacancy on the Supreme Court, and more.

As Pulitzer-Prize-winning columnist Cynthia Tucker said at our annual event marking the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision in Washington, D.C. during the early weeks of this administration: "Obama didn't say, 'Yes, I can,' he said, 'Yes, we can.'"

How right she was. We must be Partners for Change to build on the success of the first 100 days--especially because our opposition is going to extreme depths to attack President Obama.

Look at the right-wing attacks on three of President Obama's key nominees: Gov. Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas for secretary of Health and Human Services; former NARAL Legal Director, Prof. Dawn Johnsen, for assistant attorney general at the Department of Justice; and Judge David Hamilton for a judgeship on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals.

What do these nominees have in common? In addition to impeccable qualifications for the respective positions for which they've been nominated, they also have taken pro-choice positions.

Before you sit down to watch the president's press conference on Wednesday evening, I ask you to take tangible action to become a Partner for Change and call on the Senate to reject the divisive political attacks from right-wing groups and confirm these qualified nominees.

The actions we take now will determine what additional points we add to this pro-choice primer in the next 100 days.

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