Mexico City Policy

Mexico City Policy

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The Mexico City Policy, also known by critics as the Mexico City Gag Rule and the Global Gag Rule, was an intermittent United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 government policy
Policy
A policy is typically described as a principle or rule to guide decisions and achieve rational outcome. The term is not normally used to denote what is actually done, this is normally referred to as either procedure or protocol...

 that required all non-governmental organization
Non-governmental organization
A non-governmental organization is a legally constituted organization created by natural or legal persons that operates independently from any government. The term originated from the United Nations , and is normally used to refer to organizations that do not form part of the government and are...

s (NGOs) that receive federal funding to refrain from performing or promoting abortion
Abortion
Abortion is defined as the termination of pregnancy by the removal or expulsion from the uterus of a fetus or embryo prior to viability. An abortion can occur spontaneously, in which case it is usually called a miscarriage, or it can be purposely induced...

 services, as a method of family planning, in other countries. The policy is a political flashpoint in the abortion debate, with Republican administrations adopting it and Democratic administrations rescinding it. The policy was enacted soon after Republican President Ronald Reagan
Ronald Reagan
Ronald Wilson Reagan was the 40th President of the United States , the 33rd Governor of California and, prior to that, a radio, film and television actor....

 took office in 1984, rescinded by Democratic President Bill Clinton
Bill Clinton
William Jefferson "Bill" Clinton is an American politician who served as the 42nd President of the United States from 1993 to 2001. Inaugurated at age 46, he was the third-youngest president. He took office at the end of the Cold War, and was the first president of the baby boomer generation...

 in January 1993, re-instituted in January 2001 as Republican President George W. Bush
George W. Bush
George Walker Bush is an American politician who served as the 43rd President of the United States, from 2001 to 2009. Before that, he was the 46th Governor of Texas, having served from 1995 to 2000....

 took office, and rescinded January 23, 2009, 2 days after Democratic President Barack Obama
Barack Obama
Barack Hussein Obama II is the 44th and current President of the United States. He is the first African American to hold the office. Obama previously served as a United States Senator from Illinois, from January 2005 until he resigned following his victory in the 2008 presidential election.Born in...

 took office.

Scope of the policy


The August 1984 announcement by President Reagan of what has become known as the "Mexico City Policy" directed the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to expand this limitation and withhold USAID funds from NGOs that use non-USAID funds to engage in a wide range of activities, including providing advice, counseling, or information regarding abortion, or lobbying a foreign government to legalize or make abortion available. The Mexico City Policy was in effect from 1985 until 1993, when it was rescinded by President Clinton. President George W. Bush reinstated the policy in 2001, implementing it through conditions in USAID grant awards, and subsequently extended the policy to "voluntary population planning" assistance provided by the Department of State.

The policy required non-governmental organizations to "agree as a condition of their receipt of [U.S.] federal funds" that they would "neither perform nor actively promote abortion as a method of family planning in other nations". The policy had exceptions for abortions done in response to rape
Rape
Rape is a type of sexual assault usually involving sexual intercourse, which is initiated by one or more persons against another person without that person's consent. The act may be carried out by physical force, coercion, abuse of authority or with a person who is incapable of valid consent. The...

, incest
Incest
Incest is sexual intercourse between close relatives that is usually illegal in the jurisdiction where it takes place and/or is conventionally considered a taboo. The term may apply to sexual activities between: individuals of close "blood relationship"; members of the same household; step...

, or life-threatening conditions.

History of the policy


Named for the venue
Mexico City
Mexico City is the Federal District , capital of Mexico and seat of the federal powers of the Mexican Union. It is a federal entity within Mexico which is not part of any one of the 31 Mexican states but belongs to the federation as a whole...

 of the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

 International Conference on Population where it was announced, the Mexico City Policy was instituted by U.S. President
President of the United States
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

 Ronald Reagan
Ronald Reagan
Ronald Wilson Reagan was the 40th President of the United States , the 33rd Governor of California and, prior to that, a radio, film and television actor....

 in 1984. The final language of the 1984 policy was negotiated by the deputy chairman of the U.S. delegation, Alan Keyes
Alan Keyes
Alan Lee Keyes is an American conservative political activist, author, former diplomat, and perennial candidate for public office. A doctoral graduate of Harvard University, Keyes began his diplomatic career in the U.S...

, then an Assistant Secretary of State
United States Assistant Secretary of State
In modern times, Assistant Secretary of State is a title used for many executive positions in the United States State Department. A set of six Assistant Secretaries reporting to the Under Secretary for Political Affairs manage diplomatic missions within their designated geographic regions, plus one...

.

After the establishment of the Mexico City Policy, organizations were required to meet its specified conditions in order to be eligible for federal funding from the United States, and as a result, several international abortion agencies no longer received a portion of their funds from this source. The International Planned Parenthood Federation
International Planned Parenthood Federation
The International Planned Parenthood Federation is a global non-governmental organization with the broad aims of promoting sexual and reproductive health, and advocating the right of individuals to make their own choices in family planning. It was first formed in 1952 in Bombay, India, and now...

 (IPPF) did not alter its operation and lost more than 20% of its total funding. Other family planning
Family planning
Family planning is the planning of when to have children, and the use of birth control and other techniques to implement such plans. Other techniques commonly used include sexuality education, prevention and management of sexually transmitted infections, pre-conception counseling and...

 organizations, such as the Family Guidance Association of Ethiopia
Ethiopia
Ethiopia , officially known as the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, is a country located in the Horn of Africa. It is the second-most populous nation in Africa, with over 82 million inhabitants, and the tenth-largest by area, occupying 1,100,000 km2...

 and the Planned Parenthood Association of Zambia
Zambia
Zambia , officially the Republic of Zambia, is a landlocked country in Southern Africa. The neighbouring countries are the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the north, Tanzania to the north-east, Malawi to the east, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia to the south, and Angola to the west....

, likewise did not make the changes required by the Mexico City Policy and had their funding cut. NGOs in Romania
Romania
Romania is a country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeastern Europe, on the Lower Danube, within and outside the Carpathian arch, bordering on the Black Sea...

 and Colombia
Colombia
Colombia, officially the Republic of Colombia , is a unitary constitutional republic comprising thirty-two departments. The country is located in northwestern South America, bordered to the east by Venezuela and Brazil; to the south by Ecuador and Peru; to the north by the Caribbean Sea; to the...

 adapted to the new U.S. guidelines and continued to qualify for federal funding.

President Bill Clinton
Bill Clinton
William Jefferson "Bill" Clinton is an American politician who served as the 42nd President of the United States from 1993 to 2001. Inaugurated at age 46, he was the third-youngest president. He took office at the end of the Cold War, and was the first president of the baby boomer generation...

 rescinded the Mexico City Policy on January 22, 1993. He referred to the policy as being "excessively broad" and stated that it had "undermined efforts to promote safe and efficacious family planning programs in foreign nations". On January 22, 2001, President George W. Bush
George W. Bush
George Walker Bush is an American politician who served as the 43rd President of the United States, from 2001 to 2009. Before that, he was the 46th Governor of Texas, having served from 1995 to 2000....

 reinstated the policy by executive order, stating, "It is my conviction that taxpayer funds should not be used to pay for abortions or advocate or actively promote abortion, either here or abroad. It is therefore my belief that the Mexico City Policy should be restored". In September 2007, Barbara Boxer
Barbara Boxer
Barbara Levy Boxer is the junior United States Senator from California . A member of the Democratic Party, she previously served in the U.S. House of Representatives ....

, a Senator
United States Senate
The United States Senate is the upper house of the bicameral legislature of the United States, and together with the United States House of Representatives comprises the United States Congress. The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Article One of the U.S. Constitution. Each...

 from California
California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

, created an amendment designed to lift the funding conditions put in place by the Mexico City Policy. It passed by a vote of 53-41. President Bush promised to veto any legislation which would eliminate the Mexico City Policy. On January 23, 2009, President Barack Obama
Barack Obama
Barack Hussein Obama II is the 44th and current President of the United States. He is the first African American to hold the office. Obama previously served as a United States Senator from Illinois, from January 2005 until he resigned following his victory in the 2008 presidential election.Born in...

 rescinded the policy once again.

The nature of the policy has implications for organizations in certain countries such as South Africa
Abortion in South Africa
Abortion in South Africa was legal for very limited reasons until 1997, when the Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Act was passed, providing abortion on demand for a variety of cases.- Public opinion and political motives :...

. Even if these organizations support the policy itself, it is illegal for them not to inform a woman seeking an abortion of her rights, and/or refer her to a facility where she may have an abortion. The President's Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief
President's Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief
The President's Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief was a commitment of $15 billion over five years from United States President George W. Bush to fight the global HIV/AIDS pandemic...

 is excluded from the Mexico City Policy.

Debate over the policy



Critics of the Mexico City Policy refer to it as the "global gag rule
Gag rule
A gag rule is a rule that limits or forbids the raising, consideration or discussion of a particular topic by members of a legislative or decision-making body.-Origin and pros and cons:...

", arguing that, in addition to reducing the overall funding provided to particular NGOs, it closes off their access to USAID
United States Agency for International Development
The United States Agency for International Development is the United States federal government agency primarily responsible for administering civilian foreign aid. President John F. Kennedy created USAID in 1961 by executive order to implement development assistance programs in the areas...

-supplied condoms and other forms of contraception
Contraception
Contraception is the prevention of the fusion of gametes during or after sexual activity. The term contraception is a contraction of contra, which means against, and the word conception, meaning fertilization...

. This, they argue, negatively impacts the ability of these NGOs to distribute birth control, leading to a downturn in contraceptive use and from there to an increase in the rates of unintended pregnancies
Pregnancy
Pregnancy refers to the fertilization and development of one or more offspring, known as a fetus or embryo, in a woman's uterus. In a pregnancy, there can be multiple gestations, as in the case of twins or triplets...

 and abortion. Critics also argue that the ban promotes restrictions on free speech as well as restrictions on accurate medical information.
The European Parliamentary Forum on Population and Development presented a petition to the United States Congress
United States Congress
The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Congress meets in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C....

 signed by 233 members condemning the policy. The forum has stated that the policy "undermines internationally agreed consensus and goals".

Supporters of the policy have argued, using the example of the Philippines
Philippines
The Philippines , officially known as the Republic of the Philippines , is a country in Southeast Asia in the western Pacific Ocean. To its north across the Luzon Strait lies Taiwan. West across the South China Sea sits Vietnam...

, that the ban prevents overseas health organizations from using U.S. government funds to contravene the contraception and abortion laws of the countries in which they operate. Supporters also argue that the policy prevents the health agencies from promoting abortion at the expense of other birth control methods.

Some pro-life
Pro-life
Opposition to the legalization of abortion is centered around the pro-life, or anti-abortion, movement, a social and political movement opposing elective abortion on moral grounds and supporting its legal prohibition or restriction...

 commentators have also criticized the policy and Bush's reinstitution of it as being only a nominal gesture toward the pro-life community. They argue that a stipulation in the policy means that it applies only to overseas NGOs which promote abortion "as a method of family planning", and, as such, that those organizations which promote abortion on other grounds are still able to receive full federal funding.

In a possible signal that he hopes to defuse or avoid some of the heated politics of the issue, President Obama in his rescinding of the policy on Friday, January 23, had chosen not to act the previous day, the 36th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade
Roe v. Wade
Roe v. Wade, , was a controversial landmark decision by the United States Supreme Court on the issue of abortion. The Court decided that a right to privacy under the due process clause in the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution extends to a woman's decision to have an abortion,...

 decision and the day of the large March for Life
March for Life
March for Life is an annual pro-life rally protesting abortion, held in Washington, D.C., on or around the anniversary of the United States Supreme Court's decision legalizing abortion in the case Roe v. Wade. The march is organized by the March for Life Education and Defense Fund. The overall goal...

 in Washington. Both of Obama's predecessors had taken action on respective January 22nds at the beginnings of their first terms.

The Vatican
Holy See
The Holy See is the episcopal jurisdiction of the Catholic Church in Rome, in which its Bishop is commonly known as the Pope. It is the preeminent episcopal see of the Catholic Church, forming the central government of the Church. As such, diplomatically, and in other spheres the Holy See acts and...

 condemned Obama's repeal of the policy almost immediately.

Related policies


The Sandbaek Report of the European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

, which calls for the funding of the United Nations Population Fund
United Nations Population Fund
The United Nations Population Fund is a UN organization. The work of the UNFPA involves promotion of the right of every woman, man and child to enjoy a life of health and equal opportunity. This is done through major national and demographic surveys and with population censuses...

 (UNFPA), was seen by some Catholic
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

 commentators as a contrast to the Mexico City Policy. The European commissioner Poul Nielson
Poul Nielson
Poul Nielson is a Danish politician, member of the Social Democrats. He was Energy Minister in the Cabinet of Anker Jørgensen IV and V from 26 October 1979 to 10 September 1982, and Minister for Development Cooperation in the Cabinet of Poul Nyrup Rasmussen II, III, and IV from 27 September 1994...

 said that the European Union wished to "fill the decency gap" left by the Mexican City Policy.

The UNFPA states that it does not "provide support for abortion services". Pro-life individuals and organizations have accused the UNFPA of supporting forced abortions by the Chinese government
Government of the People's Republic of China
All power within the government of the People's Republic of China is divided among three bodies: the People's Republic of China, State Council, and the People's Liberation Army . This article is concerned with the formal structure of the state, its departments and their responsibilities...

. The Bush administration
George W. Bush administration
The presidency of George W. Bush began on January 20, 2001, when he was inaugurated as the 43rd President of the United States of America. The oldest son of former president George H. W. Bush, George W...

 has withheld funding from the agency due to concerns about its alleged involvement. A 2002 U.S. State Department investigation found "no evidence" that UNFPA knowingly took part in forced abortions. The organization has stated that it "has never, and will never, be involved in coercion in China or any part of the world".

In 2010, the Harper government
Premiership of Stephen Harper
The premiership of Stephen Harper began on 6 February 2006 when Stephen Harper and his first cabinet were sworn in by Governor General Michaelle Jean...

 in Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

 announced a maternal health development aid plan for the upcoming G8 summit
36th G8 summit
The 36th G8 summit was held in Huntsville, Ontario, Canada, from June 25 to June 26, 2010. In this year's meeting, the G8 leaders agreed in reaffirming the group's essential and continuing role in international affairs...

 which did not include financial support for abortion or contraception, drawing comparisons to the Mexico City Policy.

See also

  • Abortion in the United States
    Abortion in the United States
    Abortion in the United States has been legal in every state since the United States Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade, on January 22, 1973...

  • Hyde Amendment
    Hyde Amendment
    In U.S. politics, the Hyde Amendment is a legislative provision barring the use of certain federal funds to pay for abortions. It is not a permanent law, rather it is a "rider" that, in various forms, has been routinely attached to annual appropriations bills since 1976...

  • Center for Reproductive Law and Policy v. Bush
    Center for Reproductive Law and Policy v. Bush
    Center for Reproductive Law and Policy v. Bush, , was a case in which the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit upheld the Bush Administration's re-imposition of the Mexico City Policy, which states that "the United States will no longer contribute to separate nongovernmental...

    , a court case which upheld the legality of the Mexico City Policy