President Trump Restores Mexico City Policy

The executive order was signed Jan. 23, the Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children.

(photo: Christopher Halloran via Shutterstock via CNA)

Editor's Note: Updated around 6pm Eastern to include response from U.S. bishops, new poll and Marjorie Dannenfelser response.


WASHINGTON — On Monday, President Donald Trump reinstated the Mexico City Policy, an international pro-life regulation that is generally seen as an indicator of an incoming president’s views on abortion.

The executive order was signed Jan. 23, the Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children and one day after the anniversary of the far-reaching Roe v. Wade decision that mandated legal abortion throughout the U.S.

Originally instituted by President Ronald Reagan in 1984, the Mexico City Policy states that foreign non-governmental organizations may not receive federal funding if they perform or promote abortions as a method of family planning.

In the years that followed, the Mexico City Policy has become emblematic of a new president’s stance on abortion. Incoming presidents generally overturn or reinstate the policy within their first week of office, symbolizing the stance that they will take on abortion issues over the course of their presidency.

President Bill Clinton overturned the policy on Jan. 22, 1993. President George W. Bush reinstated it Jan. 22, 2001. President Barack Obama once again rescinded it on Jan. 23, 2009, drawing swift criticism from the Vatican.

Restoring the policy was not among Trump’s campaign promises, leading to some concern over whether he would institute the policy if elected.

Trump did make other pro-life campaign promises, including pledges to nominate pro-life Supreme Court justices; sign into law a ban on late-term abortions; defund Planned Parenthood and reallocate funding to community health centers that do not perform abortions; and make permanent a ban taxpayer funding of abortion.

The U.S. bishops applauded the move, with Cardinal Timothy Dolan, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Pro-Life Activities, issuing the following statement:

"We applaud President Trump's action today to restore the Mexico City Policy, which withholds taxpayer funds from foreign non-governmental organizations that promote or perform abortions overseas (often in violation of the host country's own laws). This is a welcome step toward restoring and enforcing important federal policies that respect the most fundamental human right— the right to life — as well as the long-standing, bipartisan consensus against forcing Americans to participate in the violent act of abortion."

According to a Marist Poll released on Jan. 23, an overwhelming majority (83%) of Americans support policies like the Mexico City Policy, including 73% of respondents who identify as "pro-choice."

Pro-life leaders were also heartened by the reinstatement.

“Not only has President Trump reinstated the Mexico City Policy, he’s modernized it by applying it to all foreign health assistance programs,” said SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser in a statement. “For nearly a decade under President Obama, Americans have funded UNFPA, which has a long history of involvement in China’s brutal birth limitation policy, enforcement of which routinely includes the atrocity of forced abortions. Thanks to President Trump, the secretary of state is directed to ensure Americans are no longer complicit in violating the dignity of women and children overseas. No longer will abortion be a top U.S. export.”