The Mexico City Act is a partisan (that is to say it is favored and used by Republicans and repealed by Democrats) policy and rule that was first enacted by Ronald Regan in 1984 and has been supported by each republican president since and repealed by each democratic president. You can read up on it several place online with a simple google search really if you are interested in an in depth history and what is covered and not covered by it. President Trump, like the Republicans before him, has signed this back into our policy to much applause by those who are primarily pro-life. This includes me. Here is why he shouldn’t have.
So I am going to start with the places where I agree with the rule. All of those places, oddly enough, were part of the original provision. The rule does not allow for the following things (source)/:
- providing advice and information about and offering referral for abortion – where legal – as part of the full range of family planning options,
- promoting changes in a country’s laws or policies related to abortion as a method of family planning (i.e., engaging in lobbying), and conducting public information campaigns about abortion as a method of family planning
I take no issue with this, and in fact support it fully. The rule does allow for the following:
- providing advice and information about, performing, or offering referral for abortion in cases where the pregnancy has either posed a risk to the life of the mother or resulted from incest or rape; and
- responding to a question about where a safe, legal abortion may be obtained when a woman who is already pregnant clearly states that she has already decided to have a legal abortion (passively providing information, versus actively providing medically-appropriate information)
I also have no problem with this. While I would no advocate for abortion as a means of birth control, if a woman has made that decision, she should be able to be directed to a facility where she may obtain an abortion safely in places where it is legal. I’d hope for council against such an action in a perfect world, but I am under no illusion that it will happen.
So, what’s the big deal you ask? I am glad that you did. The big deal is that President Trump has decided to expand the Mexico City rule well beyond it’s original parameters to now include “global health assistance furnished by all departments or agencies.” Pray tell what in the world does not providing funding for abortion have to do with potentially limiting funds for global AIDS prevention and relief? What does it have to do with the CDC being able to help in situations of viral outbreak for example? How does this have anything to do with PEPFAR, (a Bush initiative by the way)? Those are some of the programs and areas that could potentially be effected. For that matter, the Peace Corp, itself could be affected as it’s ability to help could be limited by this rule. They could potentially be limited in providing help at a clinic that provided an abortion after all or lose their federal funding.
I find abortion on demand to be repugnant. I don’t think that US tax dollars should be used to underwrite abortion in anyway. I’m all for defunding Planned Parenthood for example. Hell, let’s do it tomorrow and get the funding to clinics that do not provide abortion and/or start new ones. I’m all for the Mexico City rule as originally enacted for a number of reasons including not underwriting abortion. (It also prevents US funds for lobbying for, or against, abortion legislation in other countries which is a good thing, but US intervention in other nation’s policies is a different topic for a different day.) What was a reasonable, if partisan, rule that was limited in scope is suddenly a broad policy that has the overwhelming potential to negatively affect a good bit of the good that we do in the world. The cost of a thing, the total cost of a thing, must be counted. Is abortion as birth control (or family planning if you prefer as it is referred to sometimes) repugnant, of course I believe so. If a clinic performs an elective abortion in Sub-Saharan Africa, should we quit combating AIDS, TB, and Malaria there? Of course not. That is the dilemma that President Trump has put the funding in however. It’s a dilemma of his creation, it is immoral, it is unjust, and it is simply the wrong move. Just as with a stroke of his pen he authorized this, with a stroke of his pen he can change it, authorizing the Mexico City act, under the parameters previously established, get congress to put it into action as a law (hint hint), but not jeopardize the other good that we do in the world because of it.