Trump Administration expands pro-life policy that prevents funding for NGOs that promote abortions

(Reuters/Keving Lamarque)U.S. President Donald Trump holds up his executive order on the reinstatement of the Mexico City Policy after signing it in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington January 23, 2017.

The White House has announced its plans to expand a Reagan-era policy, which prevents the federal government from funding organizations that perform or promote abortions abroad.

The Mexico City Policy, named after a 1984 population conference where President Ronald Reagan initially announced it, required non-governmental organizations receiving federal funding to certify that they are not performing or actively promoting abortion as a method of family planning in other nations.

The policy was overturned when former President Barack Obama took office, but President Donald Trump reinstated it on his third day of office.

On Monday, the Trump administration announced that it will expand the policy by increasing the amount of global health assistance funds and government programs that will be covered under the policy.

The policy currently applies only to funds under the State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) family planning program, which amounts to about $600 million annually, CNS News reported. Under the expanded plan, it will reportedly cover all foreign health assistance appropriated to the State Department, USAID and the Defense Department, amounting to $8.8 billion.

The officials noted that the expanded policy will not affect the amount of funding for life-saving health programs.

The new policy only applies to funding for NGOs, not to foreign governments or international organizations. It also does not apply to humanitarian assistance, such as refugee assistance and disaster relief.

One of the officials explained that the policy, named "Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance," targets the promotion of abortion "as a method of family planning," which would include abortion counseling, referrals, lobbying and public information campaigns.

"This is implementing what the president has made very clear, that no U.S. taxpayer money should be used to support foreign organizations to perform or actively promote abortion as a method of family planning in other nations," the officials said.

International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) has criticized the policy, saying it would lead to more unintended pregnancies and "unsafe abortions." The group has noted in January that it would lose $100 million because of its reinstatement.

Other critics expressed concern that the expanded policy would affect everything from HIV/AIDS work to the prevention of childhood diseases.

"President Trump's actions have already had a chilling effect on international humanitarian efforts, preventing cooperation on a wide range of life-saving work to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS, Zika and other preventable diseases," said Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), who has proposed a measure to permanently repeal the policy.

However, Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser contended that the policy will not affect funding for foreign aid.

"This executive order does not cut a single penny from U.S. aid, rather it simply ensures our hard-earned tax dollars are used by other health care entities that act consistently to save lives, rather than promoting and performing abortion. Abortion is not health care," she said.

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