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RH Reality Check Mischaracterizes Mexico City Policy’s Purpose and Effect

In her article, “House Committee Votes to Reinstate Global Gag Rule (Again) and Other Misogynistic Amendments,” Ms. Jodi Jacobson suggests that “today’s GOP and Tea Parties” will ignore “evidence” in order to “pass a law undermining women’s access to healthcare.”    However, Ms. Jacobson’s article—full of rhetoric and lacking “evidence”—grossly mischaracterizes the Mexico City Policy’s purpose and effect.  Moreover, Ms. Jacobson is out-of-step with the majority of Americans who disapprove of their tax dollars being used to support abortion.

Contrary to Ms. Jacobson’s claim, the Mexico City Policy does not undermine women’s access to health care.  Rather, the policy ensures that taxpayer funding for family planning is not being used to promote an abortion-agenda overseas.  Instituted by President Ronald Reagan at the 1984 United Nations International Conference on Population in Mexico City, the policy states:

The United Nations Declaration of the Rights of the Child (1959) calls for legal protection for children before birth as well as after birth In keeping with this obligation, the United States does not consider abortion an acceptable element of family planning programs and will no longer contribute to those of which it is a part.  Accordingly, when dealing with nations which support abortion with funds not provided by the United States Government, the United States will contribute to such nations through segregated accounts which cannot be used for abortion.  Moreover, the United States will no longer contribute to separate non-governmental organizations which perform or actively promote abortion as a method of family planning in other nations.

In other words, the Mexico City Policy provides that for non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to be eligible to receive family planning funds from the U.S. Agency for International Development, they must agree to neither perform nor actively promote abortion—with federal or other funds—as a method of family planning in other nations.  The Mexico City Policy prohibits the abortion industry’s use of taxpayer funds for its global agenda; the policy does not undermine women’s access to healthcare.

Ms. Jacobson is also wrong to claim that support for the Mexico City Policy is motivated by animus towards family planning programs,  “it is these very [family planning] programs that the House GOP most hates, as evidenced by the endless effort to institute the gag rule.”  The Mexico City Policy does not prevent women from receiving family planning; rather, it ensures that Americans’ tax dollars are not sent overseas to support abortion—either to organizations that perform abortions or to those who are determined to promote abortion as a method of population control.  The Representatives who voted to re-instate this important policy represent the overwhelming majority of Americans who—whether pro-life or pro-choice—do not want to be forced to support abortion with their tax dollars.

Ms. Jacobson’s attempt to frame this as a partisan issue overlooks the fact that a strong majority of Americans disapproved of President Obama’s decision to rescind the Mexico City Policy.  According to a Gallup poll, 58% of Americans were unhappy with President Obama’s action.  And this was during a time when the President’s actions were otherwise polling favorably.

Ms. Jacobson misleadingly hides behind the Helms amendment as well.  Although the Helms amendment, annually attached to the Foreign Assistance Act, is a positive pro-life measure, it is limited in effect.

The Helms amendment guarantees that U.S. foreign aid funds are not used directly for abortion, or to motivate or coerce an individual to perform an abortion.  However, the Helms Amendment does not ensure that taxpayer dollars do not fund NGOs that provide, refer, counsel, or advocate for abortion.  In other words, the Helms amendment fails to prevent taxpayer dollars from going to all abortion providers (providing “indirect” subsidies for their businesses), and lacks restrictions to ensure federal funds are not used to lobby foreign governments to reverse life-affirming laws.

The effect of President Obama’s reversal of the Mexico City Policy has meant big money for the abortion industry.  President Obama’s rescission now allows over $450 million of U.S. taxpayer dollars to go abroad in support of abortion—either to organizations that perform abortions, or to promote abortion as a method of population control.

Without the Mexico City Policy, the American taxpayer is forced to support abortion overseas, even with the Helms Amendment intact.

Lastly, human rights exist to preserve and safeguard life.  A solution to improving women’s health worldwide that demands access to abortion fails to provide a legitimate framework to establish genuine care or justice for women.  Abortion, whether legal or illegal, remains a procedure that severely and irreversibly injures women physically, psychologically, and emotionally.

Ms. Jacobson misleadingly asserts that if the Mexico City Policy goes into effect, women “will go on dying, unnecessarily,” to advance the political agendas of those who desire to “deny them care.”  For those who sincerely desire to enhance and protect the lives and health of women, their focus should be on providing women with life-affirming healthcare options, better support structures (particularly for poor women and their families), sanitary environments, and greater assistance to young and single mothers.  These avenues provide the most effective means of reducing maternal deaths and improving women’s overall health and well-being.

The Mexico City Policy safeguards the overwhelming majority of Americans who do not want to be forced to support abortion overseas with their tax dollars.