Pompeo: ‘American taxpayer dollars will not underwrite abortions’ abroad

by WorldTribune Staff, March 26, 2019

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on March 26 said the Trump administration is moving on two fronts to ensure U.S. taxpayer funds are not used to “subsidize or promote” abortions abroad.

The moves include “refinements” to the so-called “Mexico City Policy” which prohibits U.S. funds from going to foreign nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) which perform or promote abortion, and a reduction in the U.S. contribution to the Organization of American States (OAS) over the OAS’s involvement in abortion-related activity, Pompeo told reporters at the State Department.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. / State Dept. photo

Pompeo said the Trump administration “will enforce a strict prohibition on backdoor funding schemes and end-runs around our policy. American taxpayer dollars will not be used to underwrite abortions.”

The Mexico City Policy, a Reagan-era directive, was expanded by President Donald Trump in 2017.

“It now protects every human life impacted by the nearly $9 billion of foreign aid we spend on global health programs each year, and in turn protects more unborn babies around the world than ever before,” Pompeo said. “This is decent; this is right. And I’m proud to serve in an administration that protects the least amongst us.”

Pompeo added that, two years into the Trump administration, “the vast majority of our implementing partners have agreed to comply with the policy, and they continue to work with us. This administration has shown that we can continue to meet our critical global health goals, including providing healthcare for women, while refusing to subsidize the killing of unborn babies.”

The secretary of state said “further refinements” to the Mexico City Policy were being made “to advance our efforts to protect the least amongst us. As a result of my decision today, we are also making clear we will refuse to provide assistance to foreign NGOs that give financial support to other foreign groups in the global abortion industry.”

Pompeo’s second announcement centered on the administration “fully enforcing federal law prohibiting the use of U.S. funds, including foreign assistance, to lobby for or against abortion, otherwise known as the Siljander Amendment.”

Pompeo said that “In light of recent evidence of abortion-related advocacy by an organ of the Organization of American States, I directed my team to include a provision in foreign assistance agreements with the OAS that explicitly prohibits the use of funds to lobby for or against abortion.”

The institutions of the OAS “should be focused on addressing crises in Cuba, Nicaragua, and in Venezuela, not on advancing the pro-abortion cause,” Pompeo said.

“And to ensure that our message is heard loud and clear, we will reduce our contributions to the OAS. Our reduction equals the estimated U.S. share of possible OAS expenditures on these abortion-related activities.”

Pompeo added: “The American people should rest assured that this administration – and this State Department, and our USAID – will do all we can to safeguard U.S. taxpayer dollars and protect and respect the sanctity of life for people all around the globe.”

Following his comments, Pompeo took questions from the press. He was told by a reporter that some NGOs, particularly in Africa and Asia, say the Trump administration’s policy is “hurtful to the healthcare to women” in rural areas and would lead to “more pregnancies and inevitably more abortions.”

Pompeo responded: “They’re just wrong about that. This argument has been presented for an awfully long time, and they’re just factually wrong about that. The moneys that this administration is providing for global health remain. We are working hard. We’re working alongside those NGOs that do some phenomenal work, and the theory that somehow not protecting every human life is destroying human life is perverse on its face.”

Another reporter asked if the Trump policy was “prioritizing abortions” over services for such things as HIV and tuberculosis funding. “Are you prioritizing preventing abortions over services that could be provided to save those lives and how does that fit in with the sanctity of life?” the reporter asked.

Pompeo responded: “I’m not sure I understand your question. We – PEPFAR (President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief), the United States provides an enormous set of resources to prevent death from HIV. America is the most generous nation in the history of the world with respect to the particular instance you cite. These two don’t run at cross purposes. We need – one need not perform abortions in order to protect people from HIV. They’re fundamentally disconnected and so there’s no prioritization there. We still consider PEPFAR and all the activities – the global health initiatives that the United States Government and the State Department in particular underwrite – to be central to achieving objectives that are important for the world and important for the United States.”

A reporter followed up, asking if the U.S. was “forcing these NGOs to make a choice between providing this women’s health service and receiving U.S. funds?”

Pompeo responded: “No, they simply are prohibited from doing these things that run counter to the United States policy, which is not to use U.S. taxpayer dollars to underwrite abortion. That’s all.”

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