By John Jalsevac

WASHINGTON, D.C., January 23, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) – One day after the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, President Obama has signed an order to lift the Mexico City policy, a Reagan-era policy that prohibits taxpayer funds from going to organizations that promote or perform abortions overseas.

Population Action International, a pro-abortion group, praised Obama’s decision, saying in a statement that it will "save women’s lives around the world."

"Women’s health has been severely impacted by the cutoff of assistance," said the group. "President Obama’s actions will help reduce the number of unintended pregnancies, abortions and women dying from high-risk pregnancies because they don’t have access to family planning."

Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelse, however, strongly criticized Obama’s move, saying: "America should respond to women’s needs in developing countries with real assistance that also upholds their dignity, not by promoting or paying for abortions.  I am disappointed by President Obama’s decision to bypass the will of American taxpayers and promote the radical agenda of Planned Parenthood and the abortion lobby."

It was widely anticipated that Obama would sign the executive order yesterday, on the 36th anniversary of Roe. In 1993 former president Bill Clinton had revoked the policy on that day, while George Bush reinstated the policy on his first day in office in 2001, the day before the Roe anniversary.

Instead of signing the order yesterday, however, Obama instead issued a statement defending Roe, while speaking of the need to find “common ground” in the “divisive” and "sensitive" abortion debate.

In yesterday’s statement Obama explained, “I remain committed to protecting a woman’s right to choose.” Nevertheless, he said, “we must work to find common ground to expand access to affordable contraception, accurate health information, and preventative services.”

While the decision not to revoke the policy yesterday was cautiously interpreted by some as evidence that Obama may not be as extreme on abortion as he has promised to be, and would not force taxpayers to pay for abortions, pro-life and pro-abortion organizations did not have to wait long for Obama to prove his solidly pro-abortion credentials.

"President Obama not long ago told the American people that he would support policies to reduce abortions, but today he is effectively guaranteeing more abortions by funding groups that promote abortion as a method of population control," said Douglas Johnson, legislative director of the National Right to Life Committee.

The Mexico City policy was considered by many to be one of the most effective pro-life policies of the Bush and Reagan administrations. International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), one of the most pro-abortion organizations in the world, told the BBC today that under the Bush administration, thanks to the Mexico City Policy, the organisation had lost more than $100m (£73m) in funding.