US bishops praise Trump administration for pro-life aid policy

CNA 5e2a57612a7d9 179457 1 Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Pro-Life. | Peter Zelasko/CNA

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops praised the Trump administration's efforts to tie U.S. aid to pro-life policy on Thursday, following the release of a report indicating widespread compliance with the Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance policy. 

The Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance rule is an expanded version of the Mexico City Policy, which forbids the use of U.S. federal funding for foreign non-governmental organizations that promote abortions through counciling, referrals, or who work to expand abortion access and legality. 

"The Trump Administration deserves our praise for ensuring that U.S. global health assistance funding actually promotes health and human rights, and doesn't undermine them by promoting abortion," said Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas, the chairman of the USCCB's pro-life committee. 

"Killing innocent and defenseless unborn children through abortion is not health care. Abortion violates an unborn child's most basic human right, the right to life, and it also can wound the mother emotionally and physically. Americans recognize this injustice and an overwhelming majority of them oppose giving tax dollars to organizations that are more committed to promoting abortion than providing health services," said Naumann in a statement released by the U.S. bishops' conference. 

The report, released on August 18, found that 1,285 out of 1,340 foreign non-governmental organizations have complied with the expanded policy, and that there has been no funding reduction and minimal disruption of health services.

According to the report, in most of the cases where partners refused to abide by the policy, an alternative health provider was found or foreign governments or donors stepped up to fill health care gaps.

The Mexico City Policy was established by the Reagan administration and forbids funding of foreign non-governmental organizations that provide or promote abortion. The Clinton and Obama administrations rescinded the policy, while the administrations of George W. Bush and Donald Trump reinstated the policy.

While the Helms Amendment forbids U.S. assistance from directly paying for abortions, supporters of the Mexico City Policy say that it provides an additional protection against pro-abortion groups accepting U.S. aid in order to free up other resources internally for abortions.

Critics of the policy have referred to it as the "global gag rule," alleging that it forces non-profits to be silent on abortion as a method of family planning.

The Trump administration expanded the policy to apply to more than $8 billion in global health assistance across several federal agencies, whereas it had previously only applied to $600 million in USAID family planning assistance.

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