U.S. Begins to Plug Mexico City Policy Loopholes

By | March 28, 2019

Secretary of State Michael Pompeo

WASHINGTON, D.C., March 29 (C-Fam) Earlier this week, Secretary of State Michael Pompeo announced his latest efforts to prevent U.S. taxpayer funds from going to groups that promote abortion around the world. In his brief statement, he stated his intention to end “backdoor funding schemes and end-runs” around the pro-life Mexico City Policy by cutting funding to foreign organizations  that sub-contract to other foreign pro-abortion groups.

The Mexico City Policy was first introduced by President Reagan in 1984 and more recently reinstated and expanded by President Trump in 2017.  This latest announcement, frequently reported as a further expansion, is in fact more of a tightening of existing loopholes.

President Trump’s expansion of the policy beyond family planning funding to all of global health was an acknowledgment that the abortion lobby had expanded its reach for U.S. funding to other areas since the 1980s, including some still not covered by the policy, such as gender equality and women’s empowerment.  Similarly, this update reflects the complex networks of grantees and subgrantees operating downstream of U.S. aid appropriations.

“The vast majority of our implementing partners have agreed to comply with the policy, and they continue to work with us,” said Pompeo on Tuesday.  When the Mexico City Policy, renamed “Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance,” was reinstated by President Trump, only four organizations refused to comply and chose to forego U.S. funding.  But, as the recent announcement indicates, the reality is more complicated.

Additional loopholes still remain: in 27 countries, where the exceptions in the Mexico City Policy for rape, incest, and the life of the mother align with national laws, abortion groups can still receive U.S. funding.

Secretary Pompeo also announced that the government was going to do more to enforce the Siljander Amendment to the foreign appropriations law, which bans U.S. funding from being used for abortion-related lobbying.   In response to evidence of pro-abortion lobbying by an unnamed organ of the Organization of American States, Pompeo stated his intent to cut the U.S.’s contribution to the organization by an amount commensurate with this misuse of funds.

Following his announcement, Pompeo took questions from the press.  A Washington Post reporter asked about the claim made by pro-abortion groups that the policy in fact leads to more abortions.  Pompeo called this “just factually wrong” and pointed out that funding for global health remains unchanged and that organizations currently receiving it are doing “some phenomenal work.”

He added, “The theory that somehow not protecting every human life is destroying human life is perverse on its face.”

Another reporter alluded to the fact that abortion advocates refer to the policy as the “global gag rule,” which Pompeo dismissed as “silly.”  “This is a policy that is designed fundamentally to protect human beings,” he said.  “It’s deeply consistent with the most moral behavior of governments.”

Democratic members of Congress are continuing to advocate for laws that would reverse the Mexico City Policy and prevent its future reinstatement, but such efforts are likely to be blocked by the Republican-controlled Senate.

More specific information regarding the policy update will be available once the guidance for its implementation is released.