Published on January 21, 2021
According to reports, President Joe Biden shortly will issue an executive order reversing the Mexico City policy, which currently prevents U.S. aid money from funding groups that perform or promote abortion around the globe.
During the Democratic presidential primary, Biden’s campaign promised that, if elected, he would follow his Democratic predecessors in undoing the policy, ensuring that U.S. global aid can once again fund abortions.
At yesterday’s press briefing after the inauguration, a reporter asked Biden’s press secretary Jen Psaki about the future of the policy. Psaki replied that Biden is “a devout Catholic” and added, “I don’t have anything more for you on that.”
But this morning, in prepared remarks to the World Health Organization, Dr. Anthony Fauci announced that Biden “will be revoking the Mexico City Policy in the coming days.”
The Mexico City policy was first instated by President Ronald Reagan, and since his administration, the policy has flip-flopped back and forth depending on the political party of the man in the Oval Office. Under each Democratic administration, the policy was revoked, only to be reinstated when a Republican administration took over.
Under President Donald Trump, the 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, “Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance,” increased the amount of U.S. funding covered from about $600 million to nearly $9 billion.
Abortion advocates in the U.S. have long opposed the Mexico City policy; Planned Parenthood, for instance, disparagingly refers to it as the “global gag rule.” But large majorities of Americans tend to oppose U.S. funding for abortion overseas. One Marist poll from 2017 found that 83 percent of respondents, including almost 40 percent of Hillary Clinton voters, said they oppose federal funding of global abortions.
Biden’s choice to reverse this policy will certainly satisfy his base — if he understands his base to consist of Planned Parenthood employees. But it does seem to be out of step with most Democrats, 70 percent of whom said in 2017 that they oppose taxpayer-funded abortion around the globe.
Alexandra DeSanctis is a staff writer for National Review and a visiting fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.