Trump Reinstates Reagan’s Policy of Blocking Funding for Foreign Abortion Providers and Promoters

Terence P. Jeffrey | January 23, 2017 | 2:12pm EST
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President Donald Trump holding his memorandum re-instating President Ronald Reagan's Mexico City Policy, Jan. 23, 2017. (Screen Capture)

( - President Donald Trump today signed a memorandum reinstating President Ronald Reagan’s Mexico City policy, which prohibits the U.S. Agency for International Development from giving any U.S. tax dollars to non-governmental institutions that refuse to certify in writing that they will neither perform nor promote abortions.

Trump signed the memorandum in a ceremony in the Oval Office at the same time he signed memoranda ordering a freeze on the hiring of federal government employees—except for the military—and removing the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal.

President Reagan first ordered the policy that Trump reinstated today at the time of the 1984 International Conference on Population, which was held in Mexico City.

“On January 1, 1985, USAID began to apply the new Mexico City policy,” the Congressional Research Service later reported. “Under terms of the policy, a U.S. NGO had to agree not to provide any USAID funds to a foreign NGO, as a subgrantee, unless the foreign NGO certified in writing that it did not, and would not during the time of the aid agreement, perform or actively promote abortion as a method of family planning or provide financial assistance to any NGO that engages in such activities.

“A foreign organization that was a direct recipient of USAID grants, such as International Planned Parenthood, London (IPPF/London) was required to make the same certification,” CRS said.

In the ensuing years, pro-abortion groups—including the Planned Parenthood Federation of America--attempted to overturn the policy in federal court and Democrats in Congress attempted to overturn it legislatively. Neither succeeded.

However, when President Bill Clinton took office in 1993, he almost immediately moved to overturn Reagan’s policy, which had been sustained through the administration of President George H.W. Bush.

On January 22, 1993, two days after he was inaugurated, Clinton signed a memorandum ending Reagan’s Mexico City policy.

Eight years later, on January 22, 2001, two days after his own inauguration, President George W. Bush signed a memorandum reinstating the Mexico City policy.

The policy prevailed for another 8 years until President Barack Obama took office.

On January 23, 2009, three days after his inauguration, Obama signed a memorandum following in Clinton’s footsteps, terminating the Mexico City policy.

Obama described the granting of U.S. tax dollars to foreign groups that perform and promote the termination of unborn human lives as pro-woman and conducive to economic growth.

The Mexico City policy, Obama argued, was “unnecessarily broad and unwarranted under current law” and has “undermined efforts to promote safe and effective voluntary family planning in developing countries.”

“For these reasons,” he said, “it is right for us to rescind this policy and restore critical efforts to protect and empower women and promote global economic development.”

Then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, whom Trump defeated in this year’s presidential election, applauded Obama’s termination of the Mexico City policy in a statement released the day Obama signed his memoranda. She called the act of previous administrations in not providing U.S. tax dollars to groups that perform and actively promote abortions a “global gag rule.”

“President Obama’s repeal of the global gag rule, which has prevented women around the world from gaining access to essential information and healthcare services, is a welcomed and important step taken during the first days of an administration,” Clinton said.

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