Biden to rescind controversial abortion rule in coming days
President Biden will rescind a controversial policy in the coming days that bans the use of U.S. funding for foreign organizations that provide or promote abortions.
The so-called Mexico City policy, first established by former President Reagan in 1984 and named for the city he announced it in, requires that foreign groups receiving family planning aid from the U.S. government agree not to provide or promote abortions — even with funding from other sources.
Described as a “global gag rule” by reproductive health advocates, the policy has been rescinded by Democratic presidents and reinstated by Republicans since Reagan, and has been in effect for 19 of the past 34 years.
“It will be our policy to support women’s and girls’ sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights in the United States, as well as globally,” Anthony Fauci said in remarks to the World Health Organization Thursday morning.
“To that end, President Biden will be revoking the Mexico City policy in the coming days, as part of his broader commitment to protect women’s health and advance gender equality at home and around the world.”
Trump reinstated the ban upon taking office in 2017 and later expanded it to cover all global health assistance, including funding for HIV, maternal and child health and malaria programs.
Biden’s expected rescission of the ban means foreign organizations will no longer have to certify that they don’t perform or promote abortions to receive U.S. global health aid.
Opponents of the ban argued it forced organizations to choose between funding for critical global health issues and providing patients with advice and information about abortions. Organizations that accepted the funding were also banned from performing abortions, funding other organizations that offer abortions, or advocating for changes to a country’s abortion laws.
U.S. funding for abortion is already banned through other laws, but supporters of the Mexico City policy argue any funding that goes to organizations performing or promoting abortions indirectly supports the procedure.
A review by the Trump administration found that more than 50 organizations declined to accept the awards under the new policy, including programs that funded family planning, services for HIV and AIDs, maternal and child health, tuberculosis and nutrition, mostly impacting efforts in sub-Saharan Africa.
Access to care had been disrupted or delayed in some countries where some grantees declined to participate under the abortion ban and alternative providers could not be found.
Documents obtained by The Hill show Biden plans to rescind the Mexico City Policy Jan. 28 and on the same day disavow a multilateral declaration organized by the Trump administration that asserts there is no “international human right to abortion.”
The “Geneva Declaration,” which was signed by countries like Egypt and Uganda, was intended as a rebuke of the United Nations’s support for “sexual and reproductive rights,” language the Trump administration had argued endorses abortion.
On Jan. 28, Biden will also order a review of the Trump administration’s controversial changes to the Title X family planning program.
Those changes required family planning providers participating in the program to stop providing or promoting abortions to remain eligible for funding.
The rule, which has been in effect for more than a year now, resulted in Planned Parenthood and other providers leaving the program, meaning some states no longer have any Title X providers.