Abortion restrictions expanded for foreign non-profits receiving U.S. health funds:

Abortion restrictions expanded for foreign non-profits receiving U.S. health funds:

The Trump administration is expanding a policy that requires foreign non-governmental organizations to neither perform nor promote abortion as a method of family planning, if they receive U.S. global health assistance funding.

Specifically, today’s announcement widens the number of foreign programs affected by the policy, from programs totaling $600 million in funding to $8.8 billion. Now, any foreign NGO that works on international health programs, such as those for HIV/AIDS, maternal and child health and malaria, cannot perform abortions, refer or counsel women to receive abortions or lobby for or conduct public information campaigns in support of abortion.

Previously, what was known as the Mexico City policy only applied to family planning and reproductive health programs overseas.

The biggest additional programs that would now be required to follow the new policy are the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), which provides access to prevention, care, and treatment to combat HIV/AIDS, as well as the President’s Malaria Initiative –- two international health programs started under the George W. Bush administration.

What is not included in the change is funding to foreign governments, multilateral organizations, migration and refugee assistance, and disaster and humanitarian relief from USAID and the Pentagon. The change also doesn’t decrease the total funding for global health assistance, according to a State Department official.

If a foreign NGO cannot meet the new requirements, the administration says it will redirect funds to a similar group that can comply.

Effective today, the new clause will be included in all future grants and cooperative agreements. Moving forward, when any existing agreement or grant is amended to provide additional funds, the clause will be added. At that point, recipient organizations will be required to sign and pledge that they will abide by the new clause or lose U.S. funds.

The Mexico City policy, first announced in 1984 by the Reagan administration, has been rescinded and reinstated by successive Democratic and Republican administrations since then. President Trump signed a presidential memorandum on January 23 to reinstate it and to order the Secretary of State to explore how to expand it.

This change in policy makes good on that order, as well as Trump’s promise that no taxpayer will be used to support organizations that promote or provide abortions, according to a State Department official.

By CONOR FINNEGAN

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