Issue in Focus
May 19 2017
On January 23, 2017, just three days after he was inaugurated as president, President Trump issued an executive order directing the State Department to develop a plan that would require all foreign nongovernmental organizations funded by the United States to agree, as a condition of their receipt of U.S. funds, to neither perform not actively promote abortion as a method of family planning.
More commonly known as the “Mexico City Policy,” named for the location where President Reagan first announced the priorities in 1984, these restrictions on abortion promotion have been a lasting point of contention between successive administrations.
President Clinton and President Obama overturned the policy in 1993 and 2009, respectively. Apparently, they supported U.S. taxpayer dollars being used to end new life or to promote abortion. Whereas, President Bush and now President Trump are dedicated to ensuring taxpayer dollars are delivering international aid to vulnerable populations to promote a better life and opportunities to flourish, not to end life of those that may be living in poorer countries or struggling through a difficult time.
This Monday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson released the details of President Trump’s reinstated Mexico City guidelines and it does even more to protect life than previous versions of the policy.
Specifically, Sec. Tillerson’s new “Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance” plan applies to all global health assistance programs funded by any federal agency, while previous versions of the policy only applied to family planning programs funded by United States Agency for International Development and the State Department. This means the new version of the policy will affect approximately $8.8 billion in funds spent by the Department of Defense, USAID, and the State Department.
While this development will save countless lives across the globe, we cannot leave the fate of these regulations up to the whims of successive presidents. Congress must now step up and do what they can to turn the “Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance” executive order into law.
A first step could be to pass S.Res.15, a resolution I introduced expressing the sense of the Senate that the Mexico City policy should be permanently established, and then we can advance additional measures to safeguard life.