Today marks the 36th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision to legalize abortion in the landmark case, Roe vs Wade. Thousands of protesters marched in Washington DC today, hoping to bring attention to the issue and to influence President Obama’s firm pro-choice stance, according to a Washington Post article this afternoon. The organizers of the “March for Life” invited President Obama to speak at the event, but he instead issued a statement reaffirming his support for a woman’s right to choose. The Roe decision, he said, “not only protects women’s health and reproductive freedom, but stands for a broader principle: that government should not intrude on our most private family matters.” He urged people on both sides of the issue to try to find common ground on preventive issues, such as contraception, family planning, and support programs, in the hope of making abortion one day unnecessary.
The protests also come in the wake of news that President Obama may soon overturn the global gag rule – a decision that would dramatically impact the work of humanitarian and development organizations around the world.
Watch Jan Egeland, former U.N. Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs & Emergency Relief Coordinator, discuss the challenges and successes of these organizations, and the impact of policies like the global gag rule on their work, at a talk he gave at the Council last year.