President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Monday prohibiting nongovernmental agencies abroad which receive U.S. funding from promoting abortion or discussing it as an option in family planning.
The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is already prohibited from giving U.S. funds to provide abortions in any country. However, this policy would freeze U.S. funding from the organizations that advocate for abortion rights or promote it as a family planning option, even if those organizations do not use U.S. funds for those specific purposes.
Called the ‘Mexico City Policy,’ the policy was first introduced and enforced during former President Ronald Reagan’s term, after which subsequent presidents have enacted executive orders to either repeal it, or reinstate it.
“We applaud President Trump for putting an end to taxpayer funding of groups that promote the killing of unborn children in developing nations,” said Carol Tobias, the president of the National Right to Life Committee.
Critics of the policy argue that it puts women in developing countries more at risk of unplanned pregnancies and that it would cause more abortions.
“Attempts to stop abortion through restrictive laws — or by withholding family planning aid — will never work, because they do not eliminate women’s need for abortion,” Marjorie Newman-Williams, the vice president and director of international operations at Marie Stopes International, was quoted by CNN as saying. “This policy only exacerbates the already significant challenge of ensuring that people in the developing world who want to time and space their children can obtain the contraception they need to do so.”
Meanwhile, President Trump has had changing views on abortion over the years, but has expressed a largely pro-life stance during his election campaign.
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said during the first daily press briefing that Trump “wants to stand up for all Americans, including the unborn,” and added that “the reinstatement of this policy is not just something that echoes that value, but respects taxpayer funding as well.”
“President Trump’s immediate action to promote respect for all human life, including vulnerable unborn children abroad, as well as conscience rights, sends a strong signal about his administration’s pro-life priorities,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List.