02/23/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

The First Step in Protecting Women's Lives

Today, President Barack Obama rescinded the "global gag rule," effectively releasing a stranglehold on women's health around the world.

For the past eight years, this relic of the Bush administration has prevented countless women from receiving the full range of reproductive services they need to protect their health and strengthen their economic stability. This rule blocked any international organization that provided information on abortion from receiving US aid money for any family planning services. An estimated 20 million unsafe abortions occur every year, a number exacerbated by the gag rule.

Our international arm, Margaret Sanger Center International, provides technical assistance to health care and social service providers all over the world. We have seen countless partner organizations, some of whom operate in countries where abortion services are already legal and accessible, turn down needed funding. Doing otherwise would have prevented them from counseling their patients on the full range of services available to them.

Now, millions of women around the world will be able to access critical basic services including safe abortion and birth control. Thanks to President Obama, thousands of health care providers will once again be able to inform women of their full range of health care options, while others, such as many of our partners, will finally be eligible for international family planning funding. No longer will any health care provider be forced to choose between losing critical family planning funding and restricting the health care services and counseling they provide to women.

Planned Parenthood of New York City and Margaret Sanger Center International know just how important it is that patients receive a full range of options, information and services. It's a relief to finally have a president who values the life and health of women around the world. Thank you, President Obama, for helping to save the lives of millions of women overseas.

We look forward to President Obama's reversal of other onerous regulations instituted by the Bush administration, such as the midnight HHS rule that prevents patients from receiving a full range of information and services.