President Trump signed an executive order on Monday barring federal funds from organizations that promote abortion around the world, including the International Planned Parenthood Federation, in what activists say is the president’s first major pro-life action while in office.
The policy, known as the Mexico City Policy or the Global Gag Rule, was first ushered in under Ronald Reagan and bars federal funds from going to foreign organizations that perform abortions overseas or lobby for the practice’s legalization in other countries.
“American taxpayer dollars have many good uses, but paying for elective abortions overseas is not and never has been one of them,” Steven H. Aden, senior counsel at the Alliance Defending Freedom, said in a statement. “The president has done the right and logical thing in reinstating a policy that never should have been rescinded.”
The International Planned Parenthood Federation said it will continue to promote abortion around the globe and forfeit the $100 million it had received annually from the U.S. government.
“We cannot — and will not — deny life-saving services to the world’s poorest women. We will work with governments and donors to bridge the funding and service gaps the Global Gag Rule creates,” the group said in a statement. “We will ensure that women can exercise their rights and access safe abortion and family planning.”
Marjorie Newman-Williams, vice president and director of Marie Stopes International, an abortion advocate that stands to lose $30 million from the executive order, said abiding by the Mexico City Policy would mean “turning our backs on the very women who need us most.”
“All the medical evidence, as well as everything we know from our daily interactions with women, is unequivocal: if you take safe abortion services out of the reproductive healthcare package, it exposes women to risk,” Ms. Newman-Williams said in a statement.
The Mexico City policy was first instituted in 1984, but was repealed by former president Bill Clinton in 1993. It was reinstated by former president George W. Bush in 2001, only to be nullified again by former president Barack Obama in 2009.
The executive action was one of many Mr. Trump signed on day one of his presidency, including a freeze on federal hiring and pulling the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal. The pro-life policy also comes one day after the 44th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision creating a constitutional right to an abortion.
Pro-life advocates said Mr. Trump’s prioritization of the Mexico City Policy shows he’s willing to advance comprehensive pro-life legislation during his presidency.
“His administration will have more opportunities to pursue pro-life policies in the weeks and months to come, such as ending taxpayer funding for the abortion industry, signing the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, the Conscience Protection Act, and much more,” Melanie Israel, an analyst at the Heritage Foundation, said in a statement.