President Joe Biden signed an executive order on Jan. 26. On Jan. 28, Biden signed an action rescinding the “Mexico City policy” that blocked U.S. funding for nongovernmental organizations that perform or actively promote abortion as a form of family planning in other nations.
President Joe Biden signed an executive order on Jan. 26. On Jan. 28, Biden signed an action rescinding the “Mexico City policy” that blocked U.S. funding for nongovernmental organizations that perform or actively promote abortion as a form of family planning in other nations.
Photo Credit: Kevin Lamarque | Reuters

Bishops, pro-life leaders decry Biden decision to rescind ‘Mexico City policy’

Abp. Naumann, Bp. Malloy urged the president "to use his office for good, prioritizing the most vulnerable, including unborn children"

WASHINGTON — The chairmen of the U.S. bishops’ pro-life and international policy committees said President Joe Biden’s memo rescinding the so-called “Mexico City policy” Jan. 28 is a “grievous” action that “actively promotes the destruction of human lives in developing nations.”

“(It) is antithetical to reason, violates human dignity, and is incompatible with Catholic teaching. We and our brother bishops strongly oppose this action. We urge the president to use his office for good, prioritizing the most vulnerable, including unborn children,” the prelates said.

The statement was issued by Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas, and chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, and Bishop David J. Malloy of Rockford, Illinois, chairman of the Committee on International Justice and Peace.

The policy, first announced by President Ronald Reagan during an international conference on population in Mexico City in 1984, blocked U.S. funding for nongovernmental organizations that perform or actively promote abortion as a form of family planning in other nations.

Republican presidents since then have upheld the policy and Democratic presidents have overturned it. Opponents of the policy call it a “gag order.”

“As the largest nongovernment health care provider in the world, the Catholic Church stands ready to work with him and his administration to promote global women’s health in a manner that furthers integral human development, safeguarding innate human rights and the dignity of every human life, beginning in the womb,” Archbishop Naumann and Bishop Malloy said.

A number of other national pro-life leaders also criticized Biden for his decision, which was included in a “Presidential Memorandum to Protect and Expand Access to Comprehensive Reproductive Health Care.”

Jeanne Mancini, president of the March for Life Defense and Education Fund, in a tweet said his action “goes against the wishes of an overwhelming majority of Americans — in fact, consistent polling shows that 77% of Americans oppose taxpayer funding for abortion overseas. The government should never force taxpayers to fund abortions, either here or abroad, but should work to protect the inherent dignity of all persons, born and unborn.”

Biden’s decision to rescind the policy was expected once he was inaugurated as president.

Biden also has said he wants to see an end to the long-standing Hyde Amendment, which outlaws federal tax dollars from directly funding abortion except in cases of rape, incest or when the life of the woman would be endangered.

Title X

Biden’s decision to rescind a regulation governing the Title X family planning program that was enforced by the Trump administration “will force abortion” to be part of the program and “may be unlawful,” said Archbishop Naumann.

Started in 1970, the Title X Family Planning Program is a federal grant program for low-income patients to receive family planning and reproductive health services. It funds services including contraception, testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections, and breast and cervical cancer screenings.

In February 2019, the Trump administration implemented the “Protect Life Rule” that enforces the Title X rule banning taxpayer funds from being used to promote or provide abortion as family planning. On Feb 24, 2020, The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the rule that Biden is revoking.

“Although the Catholic bishops have grave concerns about government promotion of contraceptives, we have long supported efforts to ensure that the provision and promotion of abortion is kept physically and financially out of the pre-pregnancy family planning services provided through the Title X program,” said Archbishop Naumann.

Section 1008 of the Family Planning Services and Population Research Act of 1970, which enacted Title X, states that “none of the funds appropriated under this title shall be used in programs where abortion is a method of family planning.”

“By rescinding this rule, the administration will be forcing abortion into a pre-pregnancy program specifically designed to exclude abortion; a move which is immoral, impractical and may also be unlawful,” Archbishop Naumann said.

Biden said in his memo: “The act specifies that Title X funds may not be used in programs where abortion is a method of family planning, but places no further abortion-related restrictions on recipients of Title X funds.”

Under President Donald Trump, Biden said, the Department of Health and Human Services’ implementation of the “Protect Life Rule” “prohibits recipients of Title X funds from referring patients to abortion providers and imposes other onerous requirements on abortion providers.”

“By rescinding this rule, the administration will be forcing abortion into a pre-pregnancy program specifically designed to exclude abortion; a move which is immoral, impractical and may also be unlawful,” Archbishop Naumann said.


Read Archbishop Naumann’s statements:

On the ‘Mexico City’ policy: https://www.usccb.org/news/2021/bishops-decry-executive-order-promotes-abortion-overseas

On Title X: https://www.usccb.org/news/2021/us-bishops-pro-life-chairman-white-house-action-rescind-title-x-rule


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