News Headlines > Pro-life groups celebrate Trump’s ban on funding for abortions overseas

24 January 2017 | by Catholic News Service

Pro-life groups celebrate Trump’s ban on funding for abortions overseas

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The 'Mexico City Policy' has been revoked and reinstated by several previous Republican and Democrat Presidents

Pro-life leaders have commended President Trump, who yesterday issued an executive memorandum reinstating the "Mexico City Policy", which bans all foreign non-governmental organisations receiving US funds from performing or promoting abortion as a method of family planning in other countries.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, chairman of the US bishops' Committee for Pro-Life Activities, applauded the news. "This is a welcome step toward restoring and enforcing important federal policies that respect the most fundamental human right - the right to life - as well as the long-standing, bipartisan consensus against forcing Americans to participate in the violent act of abortion," he said, in a statement issued on the same day (23 January).

"President Trump is continuing Ronald Reagan's legacy by taking immediate action on day one to stop the promotion of abortion through our tax dollars overseas", said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the American anti-abortion charity, Susan B. Anthony List.

"President Trump's immediate action to promote respect for all human life, including vulnerable unborn children abroad, as well as conscience rights, sends a strong signal about his administration's pro-life priorities," she said.

Fr Frank Pavone, head of Priests for Life, the international network of pro-life Catholic clergy, said: "Now we see pro-life fruits of the election unfolding as President Trump has taken immediate action to reinstitute President Reagan's Mexico City Policy".

Named for the city that hosted the UN International Conference on Population in 1984 - where Reagan, then in his first term as president, unveiled it - the Mexico City Policy has been the textbook definition of a political football. Adopted by a Republican president, it has been rescinded when Democrats sat in the White House, only to be restored when Republicans claimed the presidency.

In 1993, President Bill Clinton's revocation of the policy was made so quickly following his inauguration that some participants in the March for Life, conducted two days after the inauguration, carried "Impeach Clinton" signs.

Just as Clinton had rescinded the policy two days after taking office, so did President George W. Bush reinstate it two days into his presidency, expanding it to include all voluntary family planning activities. President Barack Obama rescinded the policy on 23 January, 2009.

Court challenges to the policy resulted in rulings in 1987 and 1988 that limited its application to foreign NGOs.

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