The global gag rule,which was first put in place by President Reagan and reinstated by President Bush in 2001,prohibited U.S. funding for international organizations that discuss abortion with women seeking information about family planning.
The group used a luncheon in honor of its 40th anniversary to praise Obama's decision.
“What a celebration this town had a week ago today,and it wasn't just this town that celebrated,the entire nation celebrated and other nations celebrated. … It didn't take President Obama long to set a new tone. He reversed the perverse gag rule,” Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Cynthia Tucker told the crowd. “We have a long road to travel in guaranteeing reproductive freedom,but the good news is we have the wind at our backs.”
Tucker,editorial page editor of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and a nationally syndicated columnist,said she feels hopeful about the direction the new administration is taking women's reproductive rights.
Actress Ashley Judd spoke about her activism for women's reproductive rights and the need for women's health services globally.
“The need for integrated health products and services worldwide is staggering,” said Judd,adding she has been pro-choice since she was a child.
Judd provoked laughter when she said of the government,”They don't want to regulate the markets,but they want to regulate my uterus.”
The organization also marked its 36th annual Roe v. Wade luncheon at the Hilton Washington Hotel. More than 700 people attended. The Supreme Court decision legalized abortion.
Betsy Stephens,71,of Chevy Chase,Md.,said she saw the “bleak” effects the global gag rule had when she worked on international family planning with the United States Agency for International Development during the Reagan administration.
“It meant that services of international family planning clinics across the world were under- funded,and we couldn't help in places like India and Rwanda where I went and worked,” she said. “I'm long retired,and to see a repeal was just a very happy day throughout the world.”
NARAL Pro-Choice America President Nancy Keenan spoke about Obama's pro-choice stance and what it means for women.
“Pro-choice President Barack Obama is in the White House,and he just repealed the global gag rule. Can you think of a better 40th birthday present for NARAL Pro-Choice Americans?”
Newly elected Sen. Jeanne Shaheen,D-N.H,who was given the Champion of Choice Award,said she was honored to receive the award but frustrated with the fragility of the status of women's reproductive rights.
“We know that we are one election away from losing the rights we are again preserving,” she said.