Editorial: The Mexico City Policy is Not a Violation of Human Rights

By | February 10, 2017
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Babatunde Osotimehin, UNFPA Executive Director

NEW YORK, February 10 (C-Fam) Mainstream media headlines this week painted President Donald Trump’s executive order banning funding for foreign abortions as an end to all U.S. support for global women’s health. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The Washington Post and New York Times’ editorial boards held particularly stark opinions. The headlines read “The Trump administration threatens to imperil women’s health worldwide” and “Mr. Trump’s ‘Gag Rule’ Will Harm Global Health.”  The daily U.K. Guardian went further, calling it a direct “assault on women.”

They warn about “cutting off family-planning funds” and funding streams “set to go dry.” The New York Times’ editorial board expressed fears the pro-life policy will make it harder “to fight cancer, H.I.V., Zika and Ebola.”

If President Trump wanted to stop funding for family planning, H.I.V., Zika, or Ebola—as The New York Times editors claim—he wouldn’t hold that power. The U.S. Congress appropriates money for these causes each year.  The U.S. President can only make sure they spend this money for the designated purpose.

The Mexico City Policy ensures that U.S. taxpayer only funds groups that promise not to promote or perform abortions.

Babatunde Osotimehin, the UN Population Fund’s executive director, stands out among the critics of the policy. The Nigerian doctor described the president’s executive order as a violation of the human right to family planning. According to the Associated Press, the senior UN staffer said that an alleged disruption in the provision of family planning violates international law. Even if such a disruption were to occur, no such right exists.

The only right UN member states recognize in this context is the right to “to decide freely and responsibly on the number and spacing of their children,” mentioned in the 1968 Tehran Declaration and the UN treaty on women’s rights. The former is non-binding, and the latter does not entail a right to abortion or to public provision of family planning. Certainly, it does not entail U.S. funding of such services.

The United States historically provides the largest funding of family planning in the world. Last year, the U.S. dedicated more than $600 million. Likely, this will continue because Congress authorized the funds.  Also, Congress authorized roughly nine billion dollars designated annually for global health. And, there is no shortage of groups competing for these funds.

Groups that are invested in promoting and performing abortions are the only ones set to lose out on the largesse of U.S. taxpayers. They would rather lose U.S. funding than adjust. To build a wall of separation between abortion and U.S. assistance abroad was the goal of the Mexico City Policy when it was first conceived in the Ronald Reagan administration in 1984.

Additionally when the U.S. withheld foreign assistance from Marie Stopes and other abortion groups, E.U. funding bailed them out. Last week a small group of E.U. pro-abortion countries announced a “She Decides” initiative to fund these groups. Eight countries committed to the fund.

Danish Minister of Development, Ulla Tørnæs, sent the E.U. Commission a request for the bailout.  However, she attempted to keep ministers from Croatia, Hungary, Lithuania, Malta, and Poland in the dark, anticipating their opposition.