President Obama on Friday lifted a ban on federal funding for international groups that promote or perform abortions, reversing a policy of his predecessor, George W. Bush.
Obama signed the executive order one day after the 36th anniversary of the landmark Roe v. Wade Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortion in all 50 states.
Liberal groups welcomed the decision while abortion rights foes criticized the president, who was long expected to make this move during his first week in office.
The so-called Mexico City policy requires any non-governmental organization to agree before receiving U.S. funds that they will "neither perform nor actively promote abortion as a method of family planning in other nations."
It is also known as the "global gag rule," because it prohibits taxpayer funding for groups that even talk about abortion if there is an unplanned pregnancy.