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Pompeo announces expansion of ban on funding for abortion services overseas

Pompeo on abortion access overseas

Secretary of State of Mike Pompeo announced refinements to the administration's Mexico City policy, a ban on federal funding for organizations that provide abortion services, in order to "protect the least amongst us." While the State Department will continue to refuse to provide assistance to foreign non-governmental organizations (NGO's) that "perform or actively promote abortion as a method of family planning," Pompeo said Tuesday that the State Department is also making clear "we will refuse to provide assistance to foreign NGOs that give to other foreign groups in the global abortion industry."

"American taxpayer dollars will not be used to underwrite abortions," Pompeo urged. 

Under the Bush administration, this rule did not apply to funding for HIV/AIDS programs. Now it does, and the policy will now also apply to programs that provide tuberculosis, malaria and nutrition services.

Asked if he this new policy risked cutting care for the nearly a million people who died from HIV/AIDS last year, Pompeo said the U.S. provides more funding for that than any country in the world and "one need not perform abortions in order to protect people from HIV."  

Pompeo added, "This administration has shown that we can continue to meet our global health goals while refusing to subsidize the killing of unborn babies."

The State Department has also moved to defund an arm of the Organization of American States (OAS) that has allowed for abortion lobbying, both for and against. "The institutions of the OAS should be focused on the crisis in Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela, not advancing the pro-abortion cause," Pompeo admonished. 

Reinstating the Mexico City policy was among one of the first executive orders President Donald Trump signed upon entering office in 2017. 

"I further direct the Secretary of State to take all necessary actions, to the extent permitted by law, to ensure that U.S. taxpayer dollars do not fund organizations or programs that support or participate in the management of a program of coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization," Mr. Trump wrote in his order on January 23, 2017. 

The policy was originally announced by President Reagan in 1984 and required nongovernmental organizations to agree as a condition of receiving any federal funding that they "would neither perform nor actively promote abortion as a method of family planning in other nations." 

The Reagan-era policy was named for the location of the U.N. conference on population where it was announced.

Abortion rights groups have long opposed the policy, and presidents have rescinded and restored it, depending on their political leanings, since 1984. Then-President Bill Clinton revoked it in January 1993 upon taking office because "these excessively broad anti-abortion conditions are unwarranted," he wrote in his memorandum, adding that the policy had "undermined efforts to promote safe and efficacious family planning programs in foreign nations." Eight years later, George W. Bush reinstated it when he took office. Barack Obama later rescinded it once again in 2009, making the same argument as Clinton had.

Pompeo said on Tuesday that Mr. Trump "boldly" expanded the policy "which now protects every human life impacted by the nearly $9 billion dollars of foreign aid we spend on global health programs each year, and in turn, protects more unborn babies than ever before."

"This is decent, this is right and I'm proud to serve in an administration that protects the least amongst us," Pompeo added.