Senators, Foundations, Columbia University Team Up Against Trump Pro-life Protections
WASHINGTON DC, December 8 (C-Fam) Last week four U.S. Senators and Columbia University joined the movement to derail President Trump’s overseas pro-life protections.
The members of Congress sent a letter to Secretary Rex Tillerson requesting unlimited mandatory reviews of the effects of the Mexico City Policy.
Reproductive rights advocates are seeking carve-outs, that Secretary Tillerson can issue, based upon evidence that healthcare delivery is being harmed.
To provide such evidence, two foundations awarded Columbia University a research grant to examine the impact of the Mexico City Policy. The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation each pledged $1 million. Among the three researchers tasked with the project is the executive director of Planned Parenthood Global and vice president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Given that Planned Parenthood has campaigned against Mexico City Policy, the outcome of the research is fairly certain. The project will focus first on Kenya and Nepal which receive substantial U.S. funding for global health.
Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Patty Murray (D-WA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Lisa Murkowski (R-WA), all longtime advocates of Planned Parenthood, asked the Secretary of State for a “comprehensive public review of the GGR policy, and in these reviews, include assessments of any harm caused by this policy to women and girls in countries that receive U.S. global health assistance.”
Abortion advocates refer to the Mexico City Policy as the Global Gag Rule (GGR), claiming that grant recipients cannot refer for abortion. In fact, the Mexico City Policy does not preclude an organization from referring for an abortion if the woman has committed to obtaining one.
Shaheen’s previous efforts include introducing a stand-alone bill to permanently repeal the Mexico City Policy and a hostile amendment to the overseas appropriation bill.
President Trump instituted the expanded Mexico City Policy in January, directing his Secretary of State to “implement a plan to extend the requirements” to bilateral global health assistance furnished by all departments or agencies as allowed by law. In May, the State Department responded calling the new plan the “Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance.” The guidelines stipulate that foreign non-government organizations that perform or promote abortion must cease abortion activities or forfeit US funding.
Abortion advocates successfully garnered some of the $6B annual HIVAIDs funding for their reproductive health and family planning programs under the Obama administration. Last Friday, they used World AIDs day to criticize the Trump administration’s policy, claiming that cutting these abortion groups will have a negative impact on fighting HIVAIDs. Critics point out that there are other groups ready to provide the HIVAIDs services without performing abortions.
The Kaiser Foundation estimated that some 1200 foreign NGOs could be required to “certify compliance with the MCP as a condition of receiving U.S. global health assistance though only some carry out activities that are prohibited by the policy.”
A representative of EuroNGO, a gathering of 200 reproductive rights activists, said that the moral impact was even greater: “People see that these statements are coming from a powerful nation like the United States and that makes it seem to them like it’s okay to have those ideas. …Opposition to [sexual and reproductive health and rights] is not something new, it’s now just so much more visible by having such a powerful person making these statements.”