WASHINGTON – Last week, President Donald Trump reaffirmed his pro-life stance by expanding the existing Mexico City Policy protections.
The Mexico City Policy protects U.S. foreign aid from going to any foreign group that performs abortions or “actively promotes” abortion as a family planning method. The policy was originally enacted by President Ronald Reagan in 1984, and has been a part of a game of political tug of war ever since. Every Democrat president since then has rescinded the policy upon taking office, and every Republican has promptly re-enacted the policy when they regained power. President Donald Trump continued the trend by reinstating the Mexico City policy on January 23rd.
Now the Trump administration is going even further to prevent American taxpayer dollars from funding abortions worldwide. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson recently released the expanded plan called “Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance.” Prior to the expansion, the Mexico City Policy applied to about $600 million in State Department funding of family-planning programs. Under the new plan, over $8.8 billion of global health assistance funding would be subject to the Mexico City Policy restrictions.
Pro-life advocates are praising the move as life saving. The Family Research Council credits the policy with “bringing a culture of life in which every child is welcomed into this world.”
Predictably, the policy is also drawing criticism from pro-choice advocates, who prefer to call the protections the “global gag rule.” Minnesota Rep. Betty McCollum was quick to denounce the policy decision, saying it will lead to “more suffering and death.”
— Rep. Betty McCollum (@BettyMcCollum04) May 15, 2017
It is unclear if McCollum is taking into consideration the lives saved of the children that would have otherwise been aborted. Also, discouraging abortions could save the lives of mothers, especially in developing countries where women risk their lives undergoing an unsafe abortion. Latest data from the World Health Organization show 21.6 million women worldwide experience an unsafe abortion each year, with 18.5 million taking place in developing countries. Of those millions, 47,000 women die due to complications of an unsafe abortion.
The White House has confirmed there will be no reduction in foreign aid under the new plan. Instead, the funds will be re-directed to health care providers that offer services like prenatal care, and maternal and child health care.
“Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance does not reduce the amount of global health assistance the U.S. Government makes available, and funding previously obligated will not be affected as a result of this policy,” the State Department confirmed in a press release.