President Biden made good Thursday on his pledge to rescind the Reagan-era policy barring U.S. funding to international organizations that provide or promote abortions, reversing the Trump administration’s stance over the furious objections of Republicans.
Mr. Biden signed the presidential memorandum in a brief Oval Office ceremony despite a letter from 118 House Republicans urging him to reconsider his decision to overturn the so-called Mexico City Policy, known to its critics as the “global gag rule.”
Sen. Marco Rubio, Florida Republican, called it “unconscionable that one of the first actions taken by the Biden administration is to send U.S. taxpayer dollars overseas to organizations that perform and promote the killing of the unborn.”
“By rescinding the Mexico City Policy, the Biden Administration is sending a signal to the world that protecting life at its most vulnerable stage is no longer a part of America’s core values,” Mr. Rubio said. “I will always stand on the side of life, and will continue my work in the Senate to protect the unborn.”
Mr. Biden described the order billed as “protecting women’s health at home and abroad” as a move to “reverse my predecessor’s attack on women’s health, health access, as we continue to battle COVID-19.”
Mr. Biden’s order came to no surprise. Since former President Reagan launched the policy in 1984, every Democratic president has rescinded the rule and every Republican president has reinstated it, including former President Trump, who expanded the policy to include non-governmental organizations that fund other NGOs that support abortion.
“This is why elections matter,” tweeted Rep. Diana DeGette, Colorado Democrat. “The Biden administration just rescinded Trump’s notorious Global Gag rule. This is a big win in our fight to protect women’s access to reproductive care.”
Rep. Chris Smith, New Jersey Republican, said the policy was “designed to mitigate U.S. taxpayer complicity in global abortion.”
He pointed to a Maris/Knights of Columbus poll released Wednesday that found 77% of adults polled opposed using tax dollars to support abortion overseas.
“President Biden is returning to the pro-abortion policies of Barack Obama and forcing taxpayers back into a partnership with the overseas abortion industry,” said Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council.
Pro-choice advocates applauded the reversal. Tarah Demant, director of the Amnesty International gender, sexuality and identity program, called the decision “a victory for human rights and for the health and lives of every woman, girl, or person who can become pregnant.”
“Rescinding the Global Gag Rule is just the first step: Congress must now permanently repeal the Global Gag Rule so that this destructive policy can’t be reinstated by the next president,” she said in a statement.
Serra Sippel, president of the Center for Health & Gender Equity, cheered Mr. Biden for “keeping his promise to rescind this disastrous policy during his first days in office.”
The rule “has always been a cruel policy aimed at women, girls, families, and LGBTQ+ communities around the world,” she said. “It is neo-colonial in nature and, put simply, prioritizes the U.S. government’s power and control of people’s bodies over the human rights of autonomy and agency.”
A 2020 report by the Government Accountability Office found that international non-governmental organizations declined about $150 million in U.S. foreign-aid funding in 2017-18 rather than stop performing abortions, advocating for abortion rights, or promoting abortion as a method of family planning.
Heritage Action for America Executive Director Jessica Anderson called the decision “another divisive effort from the new administration that flies in the face of their rhetoric on ‘unity’ and promotes the extreme agenda of the abortion lobby over the priorities of the American people.”