U.S. to stop funding organizations that provide, promote abortion abroad

President Trump signs executive order limiting foreign assistance grant eligibility

Jan 23, 2017


WASHINGTON—Today, United States President Donald Trump signed an executive order reinstating a development aid policy which prohibits U.S. agencies from issuing grants to organizations that promote or perform abortions abroad. This policy is commonly known as the Mexico City Policy, as it was first announced at the 2nd International Conference on Population held in Mexico City in 1984. WYA welcomes this decision not to fund organizations that support abortion, which violates human dignity.

As of writing, the text of the order was not available. However, policies with the same stated aims have been in place from 1984-1993 and 2000-2009 under previous administrations. Those orders have stated that the U.S. government will only fund organizations that certify that they will not provide abortion counseling, perform abortions, or promote the legalization of abortion, including with other funds. The policy has never applied to the provision of post-abortion services.

The rule applies to international, regional and local non-governmental organizations (NGOs) outside the U.S. American NGOs do not have to comply with this rule to receive federal funding, but must ensure any non-American partner NGOs certify that they do comply with the rule. The policy has withstood several legal challenges since its enactment.

The United States expects to spend $34 billion on all foreign assistance in the 2017 fiscal year. Of that amount, $9.27 billion is earmarked for heath initiatives, including $6 billion for HIV/AIDS programs, $1.06 billion for maternal and child health, and $620 million for family planning and reproductive health. Organizations providing services in these program areas will have to certify their compliance with the policy in order to receive grants under these programs, or raise their own funds.

Abortion rights activists and organizations are already protesting the reinstatement of the policy, indicating that they prioritize abortion services and advocacy. It is important to note, however, that many of the countries receiving aid have much stricter abortion laws than the United States, and may prefer that the funding remain with non-controversial services that directly benefit the health and wellbeing of their citizens.

Policies agreed upon at the national and international level have implications both in terms of the categories for funding and the actual programs that are implemented. Once a program has been implemented, it becomes the basis for future policies. WYA calls this the Policy Cycle Framework.

WYA is working to promote human dignity at every stage of this cycle through education and advocacy. Learn more about person-centered, human dignity-respecting policies through our white papers on reproductive health, maternal health, family planning, and HIV/AIDS. You can also check out our sister organization, FEMM, which empowers women through values-sensitive education and healthcare that meets their needs.