U.S. President Donald Trump has reversed the Presidential Memorandum on Mexico City Policy and Assistance for Voluntary Population Planning, a law that allowed voluntary abortion in the U.S.
Trump, who made reversal of abortion policy one of his campaign promises, announced the revocation, according to the President’s statement issued by the White House.
“I hereby revoke the Presidential Memorandum of January 23, 2009, for the Secretary of State and the Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (Mexico City Policy and Assistance for Voluntary Population Planning), and reinstate the Presidential Memorandum of January 22, 2001, for the Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (Restoration of the Mexico City Policy).
“I direct the Secretary of State, in coordination with the Secretary of Health and Human Services, to the extent allowable by law, to implement a plan to extend the requirements of the reinstated Memorandum to global health assistance furnished by all departments or agencies.
“I further direct the Secretary of State to take all necessary actions, to the extent permitted by law, to ensure that U.S. taxpayer dollars do not fund organisations or programmes that support or participate in the management of a program of coercive abortion or involuntary sterilisation.”
Trump said: “the memorandum was not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person”.
“The Secretary of State is authorised and directed to publish this memorandum in the Federal Register,” Trump’s statement read.
With the revocation, Trump has barred U.S federal funding for foreign NGOs that support abortion, relaunching a battle that has long divided Americans.
The abrogation came just two days after women led a massive protest march in Washington to defend their rights, including to abortion.
The decision to ban foreign aid to groups that lobby in support of abortion rights is certain to deepen concern among already apprehensive U.S. family planning and women’s rights organisations, according to observers.
Stenny Hoyer, a Democratic leader in the House of Representatives, sharply criticised Trump for using his first week in office “to attack women’s health”.
“It should be no surprise to the millions of women and men who gathered in protest this weekend across the country and around the world that Republicans are focused more on making it harder for women to access health care than on the serious economic and security challenges we face.”
The restrictions imposed on Monday prohibit foreign nongovernmental organisations that receive U.S. family planning assistance from using a non-U.S. funding to provide abortion services, information, counselling or referrals and from engaging in advocacy to promote abortion.
They were first put in place in 1984 by Republican president Ronald Reagan.
Later eliminated by Democratic president Bill Clinton, they were reinstalled by his Republican successor George W. Bush, and annulled again after Barack Obama took office.
Galvanised by Trump’s November 8, 2016 election, abortion opponents in states where Republicans held power moved swiftly in December 2016 to adopt draconian anti-abortion measures that in some cases pose challenges to constitutional liberties.
Trump, meanwhile, has pledged to nominate an anti-abortion justice to the Supreme Court, which could lead to overturning Roe Wade, the emblematic ruling that legalised abortion in the U.S. in 1973.