By Carol Tobias, President, National Right to Life
Editor’s note. This appeared today in The Hill.
This past Monday, pro-life President Donald Trump made it abundantly clear the United States will no longer use taxpayer dollars to support organizations that promote the killing of unborn children in developing nations.
I congratulate White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer for explaining to reporters the underpinnings of that change: that funneling tax dollars overseas to organizations that perform or promote abortions “is contrary to the values of this president.”
The president’s action illustrates, he said, “not just to the folks here in this country, but around the world, what a value we place on life.”
I heartily applaud the first of what we at National Right to Life expect to be many pro-life decisions from a pro-life administration.
The Mexico City Policy was implemented in 1984 by President Ronald Reagan, kept in place by President George H.W. Bush, rescinded by President Bill Clinton, and again put in place by President George W. Bush until rescinded by President Obama in 2009.
And because it is an often-ignored truth, it is important to know the Mexico City Policy does not impact the level of funding available. Rather, it sets a standard grantees must meet in order to be eligible for U.S. taxpayer funding.
When a group declines to accept funds because of the policy, those funds are directed to another group willing to avoid abortion-promoting activities.
President Trump’s position is supported by an overwhelming percentage of Americans. A Marist poll, conducted in December, found that 83 percent “oppose using tax dollars to support abortion in other countries.” A whopping 73 percent of those who self-identify as “pro-choice” oppose using tax dollars to support abortion in other countries.
I am proud of America. We are a country second to none in showing compassion to the less fortunate. However, I do not want the United States sending the message to other nations that their children are not valuable; that we think the people of that country would be better off if more of their children were never born.
When previous pro-life presidents adopted the Mexico City Policy, most family-planning groups complied with the policy and continued to receive U.S. funds.
However, groups that refuse to distinguish between abortion and family planning (“reproductive rights are indivisible,” as they say), such as the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) and the Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA), refused to accept the money. Apparently, abortion is more important to them than other “services” they offer.
One restriction of the Mexico City Policy is that organizations receiving U.S. funds may not lobby governments of other countries about abortion. Both IPPF and PPFA have openly worked to change pro-life laws in other countries, undermining the religious and cultural values important to those countries.
It’s not hard to imagine how Americans would react if another country funded efforts to change laws here.
President Trump’s decision should be seen in light of the House of Representatives vote this week in favor of the No Taxpayer Funding of Abortion Act. As Rep. Chris Smith, co-chair of the House Pro-Life Caucus, explained, President Trump’s memorandum
“Demonstrates that the Trump Administration is committed to a consistent, government-wide policy: taxpayer dollars should not fund abortion or the abortion industry—either domestically or internationally.”
Maternal and infant mortality remain serious problems in the developing world, which the United States has and should continue to address in life-affirming ways. But ending the lives of unborn children is not a solution to maternal and infant mortality — abortion is infant mortality. Real solutions involve improving genuine health care for both women and their little ones.
Under the Mexico City Policy, the United States will continue to provide funds to help impoverished countries.
If organizations such as International Planned Parenthood are truly concerned with providing healthcare to women in other countries, they can do so — with U.S. taxpayer dollars — as long as they agree not to perform or promote abortion.