By Vincent Maresca
On January 23, President Donald Trump reinstated the Mexico City Policy, a memorandum first introduced by President Ronald Reagan that prohibits NGOs from promoting abortions overseas. Conservatives in the U.S. and other countries praised the executive order, while opponents commonly criticize it as a “global gag rule.”
The Reagan administration originated the policy in 1984, which states that in order to receive federal funds, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) cannot “perform nor actively promote abortion as a method of family planning in other nations.” According to the New Scientist, the International Planned Parenthood Foundation lost more than 20% of its funds after not adhering to the policy, while various NGOs from countries such as Colombia and Romania discontinued abortion services and continued to receive US funding.
Subsequent administrations have either rescinded or reinstated the Mexico City Policy. Presidents Clinton and Obama rescinded the policy during the first days of their administration, while the Bush and Trump administrations reinstated and expanded it to include family planning programs. According to Trump’s January 23 executive order, the policy prohibits US tax dollars from funding organizations that support “coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization.”
U.S. and foreign clergy members welcomed the most recent reinstatement and its expansion to include family planning programs. According to the pro-life advocacy website Life Site News, Human Life International President Fr. Shenan Boquet said that he hopes the order will restore “the credibility of the United States as having a foreign policy that respects innocent life.” Nigerian Bishop Emmanuel Badejo also welcomed the reinstatement of the executive order, stating that it restored “humanity” to U.S. foreign policy and has further legitimized the U.S. as a “leading democratic civilization.”
According to VOX, critics claim that Trump’s order can also limit financial access to health care for malaria, AIDS/HIV, tuberculosis, and vaccines. In response to the order, some governments have issued actions to combat its implications. For example, according to the Government of the Netherlands, Development Minister Liliane Ploumen announced the formation of an “international fund to give women in developing countries access to clear information, contraceptives and abortion” in order to prevent dangerous backroom procedures and higher maternal mortality connected to banning abortion.