President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Monday that reinstates Ronald Reagan’s Mexico City policy — a ban on federal funding or aid to international nonprofits that either provide or promote abortion by offering patients information about the procedure.
Reagan established the policy — which was given its name based on the location of a conference where he unveiled it in 1984 — and it’s been the subject of debate for years, going in or out of effect based on whether a Democrat or Republican is in office. Obama rescinded it in 2009, with Trump once again reversing course, as the Hill reported.
And previously, George W. Bush put it in place after Bill Clinton axed it. Consider what Bush had to say when he reinstated the policy after his first election: “It is my conviction that taxpayer funds should not be used to pay for abortions or advocate or actively promote abortion, either here or abroad. It is therefore my belief that the Mexico City Policy should be restored.”
Considering the pattern thus far, it wasn’t too shocking that Trump made the move, though some Democrats — who sometimes refer to the Mexico City policy as the “global gag rule” — have decried the decision.
Even before the announcement, both sides were speaking out about their views on the matter. According to the International Planned Parenthood Federation, which will lose funding if it refuses to abide by the ban, the policy hampers efforts to help women abroad.
“When a woman or girl — and bearing in mind this could be somebody who suffered from gender-based violence or who has been married as a child underage — would go to see a health provider it would mean the provider could not talk to them about abortion, could not provide information, could not provide a referral to another provider [to perform an abortion],” Alison Marshall, the group’s director of advocacy, recently told NPR.
Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) has pledged to turn to the legislature in an effort to push back against the reinstitution of the policy, telling Foreign Policy she plans to do so as a challenge to Trump and the Republicans.
“I will continue to stand up to President Trump and Republican leadership in Congress who are intent on rolling back women’s access to reproductive healthcare, and will soon be introducing bipartisan legislation aimed to repeal the Global Gag Rule for good,” she said. “Women around the world deserve to make important personal health care decisions without politicians in Washington interfering.”
But Deirdre McQuade, spokeswoman for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said that the policy simply reinforces that “abortion is not family planning and should never be promoted as such.” McQuade told NPR that poor people are looking for food, medicine and clean water, not abortion.
Either way, Trump’s stance is clear, and it could lead to speculation about domestic policy-making. Consider that White House press secretary Sean Spicer pledged during a press conference on Monday that the nation’s new president is “going to stand up and value life, born or unborn” and “instill policies that promote life” — comments that are sure to add to debate over Trump’s pro-life stance.
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