The Trump administration on Monday formally proposed a new regulation to broaden the Mexico City Policy barring foreign organizations that receive federal global health funding from promoting or performing abortions overseas even if they do so with other funding sources.
The Department of Defense, General Services Administration and NASA expanded the Mexico City Policy to apply to contracts and subcontracts.
The policy currently enacted and expanded by the Trump administration, a regulation that has been rescinded and reinstated along party lines by presidents since Ronald Reagan, already applies to grants and cooperative agreements between the U.S. and foreign organizations.
But the proposed rule would apply to contracts, a major avenue in which a large share of global health funding is doled out.
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, “40% of global health funding obligated to prime recipients in recent years was provided through contracts.”
As President Donald Trump seeks to bolster support among pro-life voters and conservative voters of faith who care deeply about the abortion issue, an administration official told The Christian Post on Monday that the proposal is “yet another great example of the Trump administration continuing to fight for the right to life as the most pro-life administration ever.”
The proposal submitted to the Federal Register will undergo a two-month public comment period.
“The Administration’s action would mean even more US global health funding will be subject to the restrictions contained in the MCP [Mexico City Policy],” wrote Jen Kates, senior vice president at Kaiser Family Foundation, in a Twitter thread.
“In the past, when in place, it has required foreign NGOs to certify that they will not ‘perform or actively promote abortion as a method of family planning’, using any funding (including their own), as a condition of receiving US global family planning assistance.
“Upon taking office, one of President Trump’s first actions (on 1/23/17) was to reinstate the policy but he also significantly expanded it to apply to virtually all U.S. bilateral global health assistance, including PEPFAR, malaria, maternal and child health funding, and more.”
According to Kates, the administration’s expansion of the Mexico City Policy has brought the policy from applying to up to $600 million per year in U.S. assistance to more than $7 billion per year “to the extent that funding was channeled directly or indirectly to foreign NGOs.”
In 2019, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo vowed that the administration would cut down on loopholes within the policy to eliminate “backdoor funding schemes” as well as make clear that the U.S. government “will refuse to provide assistance to foreign NGOs that give financial support to other foreign groups in the global abortion industry.”
Kates explained that Pompeo’s expansion prohibits foreign NGOs that receive U.S. global health aid from providing any funding “for any purpose (e.g., education) to other foreign NGOs that perform or actively promote abortion as a method of family planning.”
The Kaiser executive added that the administration has been clear since 2017 about its intention to apply the Mexico City Policy to contracts, something that would require regulation to accomplish.
“This is an area where there is a clear-cut difference between President Trump and VP [Joe] Biden,” Kates noted about the 2020 election. “Whereas Trump has continued to expand the MCP, Biden would rescind it if elected.”
Abortion rights activists have condemned the Mexico City Policy as a “global gag rule.”
The pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute was quick to offer its opposition to the new proposal.
“The #GlobalGagRule's harm extends well beyond family planning programs to a range of other health programs,” the organization tweeted. “The Trump admin's proposal to expand this policy further is especially cruel as the #COVID19 pandemic continues.”
The proposed rule was praised by pro-life activists and abortion opponents.
“This proposed expansion would prevent taxpayer funds from being used to bankroll the deaths of unborn children around the world,” Carol Tobias, president of National Right to Life, said in a statement Tuesday. "We thank President Trump and his administration for preventing taxpayer funds from being used to pay for abortions around the globe."