Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Obama's First 100 Days

By Brian Dixon

Today marks the 100th day of the Obama presidency and you’ve probably been reading and hearing about it all day.

At some point in history the hundred-day mark became a sort of guidepost to a presidency. My favorite analysis of Obama’s first hundred days was headlined “Give Him an Incomplete.” Duh, I thought. Of course it’s incomplete. He’ll be president for at least four years he’s been president for less than four months.

On issues of population and family planning, he has already made important marks and provides a sense of promise of real and lasting improvements for people around the world. Following the election, but prior to the Inauguration, Population Connection joined with a host of organizations concerned with family planning and reproductive health and rights to ask the incoming president to take quick action on a number of critical issues.

He hasn’t done everything we asked yet. But of some 15 actions we urged him to take within the first hundred days, he’s done nearly half. They are:

  • Rescinded the Global Gag Rule within the first week;

  • Restored funding to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the world’s largest multilateral agency working to provide family planning and reproductive health services in the developing world;

  • Signed legislation increasing funding for international family planning by $84 million;

  • Called for the expansion of family planning services under Medicaid;

  • Allowed for the provision of affordable birth control at college health centers and other safety net providers;

  • Reversed the 11th hour Bush regulation allowing health care providers to refuse to provide birth control to women; and,

  • Appointed highly qualified people to critical jobs overseeing reproductive health policies domestically and internationally.

In addition, the Obama Administration made it clear during a United Nations meeting on population and development that the United States was, once again, looking to be a helpful partner in the effort to ensure universal access to family planning.

There is much to applaud in this record, but there remains much left to be done. Lifting the Global Gag Rule and supporting UNFPA were important steps, but good policies mean little without adequate funding. When the White House releases its detailed budget sometime in the next few weeks, we will be looking to see that it calls for real investment in family planning.

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