Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced Tuesday the expansion of the so-called Mexico City Policy, the global gag rule that prevents U.S. tax dollars from going to non-governmental organizations that talk about, refer patients to, or provide abortion services.
Under the updated policy, the rule now bars American funds from going to NGOs that give money to organizations that in any way talk about, refer patients to, or provide abortion services.
Today @SecPompeo announced an expansion of the Mexico City Policy — aka the global gag rule — that prevents NGO's taking US funds to talk about, refer patients to or provide abortion services. Now it includes NGOs that give money to organizations that do so. #mexicocitypolicy
— Christina Ruffini (@EenaRuffini) March 26, 2019
What did Pompeo say?
The new policy, the nation’s top diplomat said Tuesday, is about “protecting the least amongst us.” He went on to describe the rule’s expansion as “decent” and “right.”
“American taxpayer dollars will not be used to underwrite abortions,” Pompeo explained to members of the press, noting the Department of State is also expanding the so-called Siljander Amendment.
Today, @SecPompeo made two announcements to the press about the State Departments ongoing efforts to ensure that U.S. taxpayer dollars are not used to subsidize or promote abortions. pic.twitter.com/DKMjSixZnN
— Department of State (@StateDept) March 26, 2019
Pompeo said the Trump administration will be “fully enforcing” the Siljander Amendment. Introduced by then-Rep. Mark Siljander (R-Mich) in 1981, the policy specifies that no U.S. funds can be used to “lobby for or against abortion.”
The secretary made the decision following reports the Organization of American States has been lobbying for the expansion of abortion services.
“The institutions of the OAS should be focused on addressing crises in Cuba, Nicaragua, and in Venezuela,” Pompeo said, “not advancing the pro-abortion cause.”
He added the American people should “rest assured” because the Trump administration “will do all we can to safeguard U.S. taxpayer dollars and protect and respect the sanctity of life for people all around the globe.”
What is the history of the Mexico City Policy?
President Donald Trump first signed an executive order reinstating the Mexico City Policy in January 2017, just days after his inauguration.
The controversial policy was first established by then-President Ronald Reagan in 1984. He unveiled the rule during a conference in Mexico City, hence the policy’s name. The rule has gone in and out of effect based on whether a Republican or a Democrat is sitting behind the Resolute desk in the Oval Office.
Former President Barack Obama rescinded the policy in 2009. Before that, former President George W. Bush reinstated the policy after Bill Clinton left the White House. Bush said at the time, “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,” he added.
While Democrats boohooed Trump for bringing the policy back, it was obviously not a decision unique to his presidency, nor was it unexpected.
As for Trump himself, in the late 1990s, he described himself as “very pro-choice,” but in 2015, he explained during a presidential debate that his views had “evolved.”
“I hate the concept of abortion,” he said. “[W]hat happened is friends of mine years ago were going to have a child, and it was going to be aborted. And it wasn’t aborted. And that child today is a total superstar — a great, great child. And I saw that. And I saw other instances. And I am very proud to say that I am pro-life.”
During his State of the Union address last month, the president called on Congress to “work together to build a culture that cherishes innocent life,” urging them to “reaffirm a fundamental truth: all children — born and unborn — are made in the holy image of God.”