Since the enactment of legislation in 1973, recipients of U.S. family planning assistance have been legally prohibited from supporting abortion as a method of family planning using U.S. funds. USAID places high priority on preventing abortions through the use of family planning, saving the lives of women who suffer complications arising from unsafe abortion, and linking those women to voluntary family planning and other reproductive health services that will help prevent subsequent abortions.
The Helms Amendment
No foreign assistance funds may be used to pay for the performance of abortion as a method of family planning or to motivate or coerce any person to practice abortions. Under the Helms Amendment, post-abortion care – the treatment of injuries or illnesses caused by legal or illegal abortion – is permitted.
The Leahy Amendment
The term “motivate,” as it relates to family planning assistance, shall not be construed to prohibit the provision, consistent with local law, of information or counseling about all pregnancy options.
The Siljander Amendment
No foreign assistance funds may be used to lobby for or against abortion.
The Biden Amendment
No foreign assistance funds may be used to pay for any biomedical research which relates, in whole or in part, to methods of, or the performance of, abortions or involuntary sterilization as a means of family planning.
Rescission of the Mexico City Policy
On January 23, 2009, President Obama rescinded the Mexico City Policy. The Mexico City Policy had required foreign nongovernmental organizations to certify that they will not perform or actively promote abortion as a method of family planning using funds generated from any source as a condition for receiving USAID family planning assistance. The Mexico City Policy had been in effect from 1985 until 1993, when it was rescinded by President Clinton. President Bush reinstated the policy in 2001, and it had remained in place since that time. In rescinding the policy, President Obama directed USAID to immediately waive the policy’s conditions in any current grants; notify current grantees, as soon as possible, that these conditions have been waived; and immediately cease imposing these conditions in any future grants.