President Trump has expanded an executive order he signed in January re-implementing the Mexico City Policy that bans U.S. funds from paying for abortions overseas. The policy, originally implemented in 1984 by the Reagan administration, was rescinded by President Bill Clinton, re-instituted during the eight years of the Bush administration, and rescinded again by President Obama, allowing groups like International Planned Parenthood and Marie Stopes International to reap hundreds of millions of dollars for its abortion businesses overseas.
As reported by LifeNews.com, the executive order signed by Trump on January 23 “stops taxpayer funding of groups that perform and promote abortions overseas, but does not stop non-abortion international assistance. The order ensures U.S. foreign aid will continue to go to health care and humanitarian relief.... It just will not subsidize abortion overseas.”
Following up on that executive order, on May 15 the Trump administration announced a major expansion of the Mexico City Policy, increasing the ban from roughly $600 million in family planning money to encompass all U.S. international health care, which amounts to nearly $9 billion. The administration said that under the expanded order, called officially the Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance plan, the same amount of funding would still be available globally, but would only go to groups that promise not to perform abortions as part of their “family planning” strategies.
In a press release the Trump administration said that the U.S. “remains deeply committed to supporting health programs around the world. Foreign NGOs that agree not to perform or actively promote abortion as a method of family planning will remain eligible to receive global health assistance through the standard U.S. Government processes that govern the award of federal funds.”
The day the president signed the original executive order re-instating the Mexico City Policy, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said that Trump “has made it very clear that he’s a pro-life president. He wants to stand up for all Americans, including the unborn, and I think the reinstatement of this policy is not just something that echoes that value, but respects taxpayer funding as well.”
Among those decrying the president's latest move was pro-abortion U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H), who said: “We know that when family planning services and contraceptives are easily accessible, there are fewer unplanned pregnancies, maternal deaths, and abortions. Yet the Trump administration has chosen to ignore decades of research in favor of an ideological crusade that cuts off vital family planning services.”
By contrast, pro-life groups were quick to praise the president's actions. “We applaud the Trump administration for not just stopping the pro-abortion policies of the Obama era, but putting in place policies that will reverse the destructive and immoral trends of the last eight years,” said Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council. “President Trump is keeping faith with the almost 60 percent of Trump voters who supported him and Vice President Pence based on their endorsement of the Republican Party’s platform on life and religious liberty.”
Similarly Marjorie Dannenfelser of the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List said that “with the implementation of Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance, we have officially ceased exporting abortion to foreign nations. No longer will we undermine the pro-life laws and cultural commitments of other countries by funding organizations like Marie Stopes International that obsessively promote and perform abortion.”
Lila Rose of the pro-life group Live Action challenged that with the latest Trump order, “it’s time for Congress to finish the job here in the United States and stop the hundreds of millions of tax dollars going to the biggest abortion chain in America, Planned Parenthood. The federal government’s most important duty is to protect human life, so it is unthinkable that our tax dollars fund a corporation that destroys the lives of over 320,000 pre-born children each year right here at home.”
Bill Hahn, vice president of communications for the liberty-minded John Birch Society, said that “stopping the funding for abortions anywhere is a great first step.” He added, “Let’s take the next step of stopping the abortion movement in the U.S., as well as stopping any federal dollars from being used as foreign aid for any reason. There is nothing in the Constitution authorizing foreign aid, but there are plenty of reasons to protect life.”