President Obama today rescinded the policy, begun by President Reagan and resurrected by the last President Bush, that bans U.S. foreign aid from going to organizations that counsel foreign citizens on abortion or lobby foreign governments to make abortion legal.

Reagan had instituted the rule in 1984 as an extension of the 1961 Foreign Assistance Act, which prohibits organizations from using U.S. foreign aid to finance the performance of abortions, or the motivation or coercion of any woman to have one. President Clinton rescinded the "Mexico City Rule" in 1993; President George W. Bush reinstated it in 2001.

"It is clear that the provisions of the Mexico City Policy are unnecessarily broad and unwarranted under current law, and for the past eight years, they have undermined efforts to promote safe and effective voluntary family planning in developing countries," Obama said in a statement released by the White House. "For these reasons, it is right for us to rescind this policy and restore critical efforts to protect and empower women and promote global economic development."<!--more-->