The Corner

Politics & Policy

Say Goodbye to the Mexico City Policy

President-elect Joe Biden speaks in Wilmington, Del., November 10, 2020. (Jonathan Ernst

/Reuters)

The incoming Biden-Harris administration has already unveiled its plan for what the new Democratic White House will do policy-wise in its early days. Unsurprisingly, among the action items is a pledge to reverse a pro-life policy that President Trump enacted and then expanded during his first year in office.

The Mexico City policy, first established by President Ronald Reagan, prohibits U.S. international-aid money from underwriting groups that promote or perform abortion overseas. Since Reagan, every Republican administration has enacted the policy, and every Democratic administration has revoked it.

The Biden-Harris administration will be no exception. “Yes, Biden will use executive action on his first day in office to withdraw the Mexico City ‘global gag rule,’” a Biden campaign spokesperson told the Washington Post during the Democratic primary campaign.

Undoing the policy is among the action items in the new administration’s plan for the first 100 days after inauguration. As a result of such a move, several billions in U.S. aid will once more be made available to abortion groups that operate around the world.

Under the Trump administration, the existing Mexico City policy was expanded to include not only family planning funds distributed by the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development but also all foreign-health assistance provided by government agencies, including the Office of the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator, and the Defense Department.

That new policy, dubbed “Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance,” increased the amount of U.S. funding covered from about $600 million to nearly $9 billion.

Earlier this fall, meanwhile, the Trump administration proposed yet another expansion, which would have applied the terms of the PLGHA policy to all global health assistance provided by the U.S. government through contracts administered by federal agencies.

Surveys consistently have shown that large majorities of Americans tend to oppose funding abortion overseas. A Marist poll shortly before Trump was inaugurated, for instance, found that 83 percent of respondents, including almost 40 percent of people who voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016, oppose federal funding of global abortions.

Biden’s decision to undo this policy seems to be out of step not only with the American people but also with most Democrats. A 2018 survey from Marist/Knights of Columbus found that Democrats were almost evenly split on whether taxpayers should fund abortion in the U.S.; about 45 percent said they oppose the practice. Meanwhile, a 2017 poll found that 70 percent of Democrats oppose taxpayer-funded abortion around the globe.

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