International Planned Parenthood Will Lose U.S. Funds Because of Trump's Pro-Life Policy

By Patrick Goodenough | January 24, 2017 | 4:17am EST
President Donald Trump signed a series of orders, including one reinstating the Mexico City Policy, on January 23, 2017. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

( – The International Planned Parenthood Federation and Marie Stopes International, two major beneficiaries of U.S. funding, indicated Monday they will not comply with a newly-reinstated policy that prohibits federal funding for organizations that promote or perform abortions around the world.

The IPPF acknowledged it will lose $100 million U.S. tax  dollars for its programs, but declared that it and its partners in 170 countries around the world “will not sign a policy that denies human rights and puts the lives of women at risk.”  

Instead, the organization said it would “work with governments and donors to bridge the funding and service gaps” created by the U.S. policy, and “ensure that women can exercise their rights and access safe abortion and family planning.”

Marie Stopes International (MSI) received $30 million in U.S. funding last year, but said it could not agree to the restored U.S. funding restrictions, since it “knows that safe abortion is a vital component of women’s reproductive healthcare.”

“All the medical evidence, as well as everything we know from our daily interactions with women, is unequivocal,” said MSI vice-president Marjorie Newman-Williams. “If you take safe abortion services out of the reproductive healthcare package, it exposes women to risk.”

On his third day in office President Trump reinstated the Mexico City Policy, which requires non-governmental organizations receiving U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) funding to certify that they are not carrying out or promoting abortion – even if those activities themselves are funded by non-U.S. money.

The Reagan-era policy, which opponents call the “global gag rule,” was rescinded by President Clinton in 1993, restored by President Bush in 2001, and overturned again by President Obama in 2009.

Trump’s memorandum reinstating the policy was warmly welcomed by pro-life advocates.

“Thank you for making sure our hard-earned tax dollars aren’t used to fund or promote abortions abroad,” said Concerned Women for America president and CEO Penny Nance. “America has so much more to offer the world than death.”

“By redirecting taxpayer dollars away from the international abortion industry, President Trump has re-instituted life-affirming protections for unborn children and their mothers,” said Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), co-chairman of the Congressional Pro-Life Caucus.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan, chairman of the U.S. States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ committee on pro-life activities, called the move “a welcome step toward restoring and enforcing important federal policies that respect the most fundamental human right – the right to life – as well as the long-standing, bipartisan consensus against forcing Americans to participate in the violent act of abortion.”

Nance and Dolan both pointed to a new poll finding that more than 80 percent of Americans “oppose using tax dollars to fund abortions” abroad.

Opponents of the Mexico City Policy argue that it harms other activities carried out by organizations such as IPPF and MSI, especially in poorer countries, including provision of contraception and HIV/Aids prevention and treatment.

“When it has been enacted by previous Republican presidents, evidence has shown that the Global Gag Rule has not reduced the number of abortions; rather, by eliminating access to contraception, it has led to more unintended pregnancies and more unsafe abortions,” said the IPPF on Monday.

Susan Yoshihara, senior vice-president for research at the Center for Family and Human Rights (C-Fam), said Monday the argument that application of the Mexico City Policy led to more abortions in developing countries often relies on a 2011 paper by Stanford University researchers that compared abortion rates in 20 African countries in the 1994-2000 period (when under President Clinton the policy was rescinded) and the 2001-2008 period (when it was applied under President George W. Bush.)

Yoshihara pointed to a subsequent study by C-Fam’s International Organizations Research Group that found the 2011 paper to be flawed in methodology and data and concluded that it had not demonstrated an increase in abortions as a result of the U.S. policy.

“The fact that all the opposition can come up with is this one discredited paper from 2011 tells you that they don’t have evidence to support their assertion,” she said.

(The same 2011 paper was cited Monday by MSI in its response to Trump’s move. It was also cited by the Guttmacher Institute in an earlier analysis, to which it drew attention on Twitter on Monday.)

“On the other hand,” Yoshihara said, “we at C-Fam have talked with people on the ground in Africa, who report that the re-instatement of the policy by G.W. Bush was effective in closing abortion clinics and allowing the funding to go to maternal health clinics.”

“They report that this saved lives,” she added. “They credit the [Mexico City Policy] for this.”

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