Not really. Not at all, actually. After much speculation and rumors running both ways, President Obama, the AP reports, "on Friday quietly ended the Bush administration's ban on giving federal money to international groups that perform abortions or provide information on the option.":
Known as the "Mexico City policy," the ban has been reinstated and then reversed by Republican and Democratic presidents since Ronald Reagan established it in 1984. Democrat Bill Clinton ended the ban in 1993, but Republican George W. Bush re-instituted it in 2001 as one of his first acts in office.
A White House spokesman, Bill Burton, said Obama signed an executive order on the ban, without coverage by the media, late Friday afternoon. That was in contrast to the midday signings with fanfare of executive orders on other subjects earlier in the week.
Obama's action came one day after the 36th anniversary of the Supreme Court's landmark Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized abortion.
The Bush policy had banned U.S. taxpayer money, usually in the form of Agency for International Development funds, from going to international family planning groups that either offer abortions or provide information, counseling or referrals about abortion. The rule also had prohibited federal funding for groups that lobby to legalize abortion or promote it as a family planning method.
In a move related to the lifting of the abortion rule, Obama also is expected to restore funding to the U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA), probably in the next budget. Both he and Clinton had pledged to reverse a Bush administration determination that assistance to the organization violated U.S. law.
The Bush administration had barred U.S. money from the fund, contending that its work in China supported a Chinese family planning policy of coercive abortion and involuntary sterilization. UNFPA has vehemently denied that it does.
Catholics who oppose abortion can, however, taken solace in knowing that President Obama's opposition to poverty and injustice closely aligns with Catholic social teaching.
UPDATE: President Obama's decision is "very disappointing," says Cardinal Justin Rigali, chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee on Pro-Life Activities. Planned Parenthood, on the other hand, rejoices that the President's "repeal of the global gag rule ends eight long years of policies that have blocked access to basic health care for women worldwide."