What to Know About Trump Reinstatment of Mexico City Policy Affecting Overseas Abortions

Mexico City policy stops U.S. funding for groups providing abortion services.

ByABC News
January 24, 2017, 1:10 PM

— -- On President Trump's first Monday in office, he issued an executive memorandum reinstating the Mexico City policy, also called the global gag rule, which bars federal funding for overseas groups that provide access to or counseling about abortions.

What Is the Mexico City Policy, or Global Gag Rule?

The policy bars foreign organizations from receiving U.S. aid if they offer abortion-related services, including counseling on abortion, as part of family-planning services.

The History of Policy

Introduced by President Ronald Reagan at a United Nations conference in Mexico City in 1984, the policy was dubbed the global gag rule by abortion-rights groups.

The policy, which has been heavily criticized by Democrats, has been rescinded and reinstated multiple times. President Bill Clinton overturned the policy in 1993, and it was reinstated under President George W. Bush in 2001. President Barack Obama overturned the policy on his third day in office in 2009.

What Aid Groups Have Said

Dozens of organizations issued a coalition statement on Monday against the policy, arguing that it will not stop abortions, just make them less safe.

Groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union, the American Congress of Obstetrics and Gynecology and the International Planned Parenthood Federation have pointed out that organizations have had to close clinics that provide health services as a result of the funding cuts.

"When in place, the negative impacts of the global gag rule have been broad and severe: Health services have been dismantled in a number of communities; clinics that provided a range of reproductive, maternal and child health care, including HIV testing and counseling, were forced to close; outreach efforts to hard-to-reach populations were eliminated; and access to contraceptives was severely limited, resulting in more unintended pregnancies and more unsafe abortions," the coalition said in its statement.

Marie Stopes International, a U.K.-based aid group that provides abortion services and contraception around the world, said that the reinstated policy could lead women to seek unsafe abortion options.

"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 health care package, it exposes women to risk," Marjorie Newman-Williams, the director of the group's international operations, said in a statement on Monday.

"Every year, 21.6 million women are so desperate to end their pregnancy they put their lives on the line by risking an unsafe abortion," she added. "Thousands of them die, and millions more are left with life altering injuries."

The International Planned Parenthood Federation said it would rather lose U.S. aid rather than abide by the policy restrictions. The group said it estimates that it will lose $100 million "for proven programs that provide comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services for millions of women and youth who otherwise go without these vital services, including women suffering the burden of health and humanitarian crises."

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