President Joe Biden will roll back a Trump administration policy that bans taxpayers’ dollars from going to foreign non-governmental organizations (NGO) that perform or actively promote abortion as a method of family planning, Dr. Anthony Fauci said on Thursday.
“It will be our policy to support women’s and girls’ sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights in the United States, as well as globally,” Fauci, who is the newly appointed chief medical adviser to the president, said in remarks to the World Health Organization.
“To that end, President Biden will be revoking the Mexico City Policy in the coming days, as part of his broader commitment to protect women’s health and advance gender equality at home and around the world.”
Former President Donald Trump in 2017 had reinstated the so-called Mexico City Policy, a Reagan-era rule that prohibits the United States from providing financial support to abortion centers and programs overseas. He later expanded it to cover all global health assistance, including funding for HIV, maternal and child health, and malaria.
The policy was also expanded to refuse funding to foreign NGOs that provide funding to other overseas groups that support or promote abortions, in what has been described as “backdoor funding schemes.”
“As a result of my decision today, we are also making clear, we will refuse to provide assistance to foreign NGOs that give financial support to other foreign groups in the global abortion industry,” former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in March 2019. “We will enforce a strict prohibition on backdoor funding schemes … American taxpayer dollars will not be used to underwrite abortions.”
Biden during his campaign had vowed to rescind the policy, according to his campaign website.
It is not unusual for a Democratic president to rescind the policy. For decades, Republican presidents would restore the rule, while Democrat presidents would lift it. President Barack Obama overturned the Reagan rule in 2009.
Trump was a strong advocate for pro-life and religious freedoms during his presidency, issuing orders and proclamations that required his administration to protect the sanctity of life and unborn children, as well as ensure religious exemptions in policies.
In contrast, Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris have both expressed support for abortions, and are seeking to roll back Trump policies restricting abortions. During their campaign, they have signaled that they would push to codify the Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortions in all 50 states.
During his campaign, Biden promised to expand access to contraception as well as “protect the constitutional right to an abortion.” He also supports repealing the Hyde Amendment that blocks federal funds from being used in abortion services.
He had also vowed to reverse other Trump administration policies that put restrictions on abortions and restore funding for Planned Parenthood, which was blocked by the Trump administration.
Some religious liberty advocates and people of faith are worried that the religious freedom protections implemented by the Trump administration could be rolled back under a Biden administration, including forcing people of faith to perform medical procedures or religious employers to provide health insurance in areas that contravene their religious beliefs.
On Biden’s first day, he signed an executive order that codifies the 2020 Supreme Court ruling Bostock v. Clayton County, which found Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act’s definition of sex discrimination in hiring covers sexual orientation and gender identity. The ruling was criticized by many religious conservatives, who warned about the realistic risks religious employers and non-profits would face when making hiring decisions.