Trump expands Mexico City rule, cutting foreign aid to groups that promote abortion

Days after he took office President Trump announced the return of the Mexico City Policy which prevents U.S. foreign aid from going to groups that promote abortion. But the President also ordered the Secretary of State to create a plan to expand the policy. Monday the State Department announced the new policy called Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance. Reuters reports:

The new policy means that $8.8 billion in U.S. assistance to an array of programs fighting HIV/AIDS, malaria and maternal and child health will be subject to the so-called Mexico City policy.

The policy, introduced in 1984, holds that no U.S. government funding for family planning services can be given to foreign clinics or groups that offer abortion services or discuss abortion, even if the funds for those activities come from non-U.S. government sources.

The policy previously applied to a much narrower stream of about $600 million in U.S. government funds.

The Mexico City policy was announced in 1984 for President Reagan. Since then, Democratic presidents usually rescind the rule when they take office and Republican presidents restore it. The new expanded policy won’t apply to humanitarian aid or disaster relief funds from either the Pentagon or the State Department. It also won’t decrease the total amount of global health assistance the U.S. is offering. However, it will impact who receives those dollars. From the Guardian:

The US is the single largest donor country to global health efforts, meaning the new rule is expected to have a far-reaching impact on reproductive health initiatives abroad.

One group alone, the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), stands to lose $100m in annual funding because it will not abide by the new rule, a spokeswoman said in January. None of that money is currently used for abortion services.

There is opposition to the new rule from abortion rights groups and from the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation. They argue that cutting funding to groups that promote abortion also cuts funds needed to promote birth control which can help control pregnancy and prevent the spread of diseases like AIDS. Birth control and AIDS prevention are goals most Americans would likely support, but as the quote above notes, the International Planned Parenthood Federation will refuse all of the funding rather than abide by the rule. That’s their choice but taxpayers, through their elected representatives, also get a say in which groups will receive billions in government aid.

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