The US Mexico city policy: brief history and impact on women's health and beyond

AuthorJeney, Petra; Cotroneo, Clara
IPOL | Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs
12 PE 621.927
1.1. The US Mexico City Policy: historical developments and content
Recently, in 2019, the US Secretary of State has announced the expansion of the Mexico City Policy
(MCP), better known amongst its critics as the Global Gag Rule (GAG/GGR). This US policy had been
reinstated by the US administration in 2017 to block US funds to organizations or groups that perform
abortion services, provide information about abortion, or advocate for abortion rights. Through its
latest amendments of 2019, the new policy also blocks funding to organizations that, though not
directly involved in any of the three activities listed above, support other organizations engaged in the
provision of abortion services or pro-abortion advocacy. This study opens by presenting a concise, yet
comprehensive overview of the historical developments of the US MCP. In order to fully appreciate the
context in which this has been reinstated (Sections 1.2) and its impact on organizations, communities
and individuals globally (Sections 1.3), it is useful to first understand what the policy entails, how it is
formulated and which organizations and groups it affects. Furthermore, as the negative impact of the
MCP on the delivery of essential services was partly due to the vagueness of its formulation, this
introduction hopefully clarifies some aspec ts of its content and applicability.
In January 2017, US President reinstated the Mexico City Policy (MCP), also referred to as the Global Gag
Rule. The 2017 Gag is a policy that governs US foreign aid, by putting a ban on US funding to foreign
organizations or groups that perform, support or advocate for abortion. In essence, the US GAG/GGR
(re)directs US funding away from organizations involved in one, or more, of the following activities:
Provide/perform abortion services;
Provide advice and/or information about abortion services;
Provide referrals for abortion;
Lobby or advocate for the liberalization and non-criminalization of abortion;
Campaign for abortion as a method for family planning;
Perform or support coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization.
In practice, the policy prevents the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) from
providing foreign aid funds to international organizations and groups providing abortion related
services and information.1 The policy admits exceptions to funds provisions in the following cases:
When abortion services are offered to women whose pregnancy results from sexual violence
or family incest;
When the pregnancy puts the mother’s life at risk;
When the service is provided to treat injuries or illness caused by illegal abortion;
When a pregnant woman has decided to have a legal abortion and the family planning
counsellor believes that, following the code of ethics of the medical profession of his/her
country, they should provide the woman with information on where to access legal and safe
abortion services.
1 Presidential Document by the Execut ive Office of the President on 03/29/2001, availabl e at
https://www.federalregister. gov/documents/2001/03/29/01-8011/restorati on-of-the-mexico-city-policy

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