Obama: The Mexico City Policy and the Helms Amendment

Friday, January 23, 2009                                                                 Derrick Jones, (202) 626-8825
mediarelations@nrlc.org

OBAMA ABORTION AGENDA LAUNCHED TODAY WITH ORDER PROMOTING ABORTION IN U.S. POPULATION-CONTROL PROGRAM

WASHINGTONPresident Obama today signs an order that will put hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars into the hands of organizations that aggressively promote abortion as a population-control tool in the developing world.

Obama’s order overturns the “Mexico City Policy,” under which funds in the U.S. “population assistance” program go only to overseas organizations that pledge not to “perform or actively promote abortion as a method of family planning.”

Douglas Johnson, legislative director for the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC), commented, “This is the first in an anticipated series of attacks on longstanding pro-life policies, as the new administration pushes Obama’s sweeping abortion agenda.  That agenda includes repeal of the Hyde Amendment, which would result in tax-funded abortion as a birth control method in the U.S., and imposition of sweeping pro-abortion mandates on private employers through health-care reform legislation.

“One effect of Obama’s order will be to divert many millions of dollars away from groups that do not promote abortion, and into the hands of those organizations that are the most aggressive in promoting abortion in developing countries.  President Obama not long ago told the American people that he would support policies to reduce abortions, but today he is effectively guaranteeing more abortions by funding groups that promote abortion as a method of population control.”

Contrary to some misunderstandings, enforcement of the Mexico City Policy did not reduce the amount of money spent on the program, nor will Obama’s order increase the amount (which is $461 million in the current fiscal year).  Rather, the policy affects what type of groups qualify for grants under the program.  “Obama’s order will predictably result in a redirection of funds to groups such as the International Planned Parenthood Federation, which are ideologically committed to the doctrine that abortion on demand must be universally available as a birth control method,” Johnson said.

Although Obama’s order will result in major subsidies for organizations that promote abortion overseas, the direct use of the U.S. funds to perform abortion procedures will remain unlawful under the Helms Amendment to the Foreign Assistance Act.  “The Helms Amendment can be changed only by an act of Congress, but because the Obama Administration is joined at the hip with the abortion lobby, we will be watching carefully for any evidence that the Administration is failing to enforce the Helms Amendment,” Johnson said.

The details of the Mexico City Policy are spelled out in an official handbook issued by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), which is available on request from NRLC (in PDF format).  Basically, the policy required grantees to refrain from performing abortions (except to save the life of the mother, or in cases of rape or incest), or lobbying to legalize abortion, or otherwise promoting abortion as a family-planning method.  The policy explicitly allowed responding to questions about where abortions may be obtained, in countries in which abortions are legal.

The National Right to Life Committee is the nation’s largest pro-life group with affiliates in all 50 states and over 3,000 local chapters nationwide.  National Right to Life works through legislation and education to protect those threatened by abortion, infanticide, euthanasia and assisted suicide.

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