US & Canada

Trump executive order reverses foreign abortion policy

President Donald Trump holds up an executive order Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption President Donald Trump is bringing the "Mexico City Policy" back into force

Donald Trump has signed an executive order to ban federal money going to international groups which perform or provide information on abortions.

The US president's order shows he "wants to stand up for all Americans, including the unborn," his press secretary Sean Spicer said.

The executive order - known as "the Mexico City Policy" - is likely to concern pro-choice groups, already wary of his anti-abortion stance.

Mr Trump supports a US abortion ban.

But this is not the first time a foreign funding ban has been put in place. Republican President Ronald Reagan first created the Mexico City Policy in 1984 introducing the ban, only for the Democrats to later rescind it under the Clinton administration.

The policy requires non-governmental organisations receiving federal funding to agree to "neither perform nor actively promote abortion as a method of family planning in other nations".

For decades, it has been the case that no US money can be spent on overseas abortions but the Mexico City policy takes that a step further.

In 2009, Barack Obama ended the policy, which had been reinstated under President George Bush's tenure.

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionDonald Trump begins his first full week in office

Pro-choice groups have criticised the move by Mr Trump.

"It's telling that one of Trump's first executive actions combines two of his favourite things: silencing anyone who disagrees with him and repressing women," a statement from advocacy group Naral Pro-Choice America.

"Just two days after the historic Women's March and one day after the anniversary of the historic decision in Roe v. Wade, Donald Trump's misguided priority is to reinstate... a policy that silences health workers at the expense of their patients."

On the campaign trail, the formerly pro-choice Republican told MSNBC "there has to be some sort of punishment for the woman" if abortion was banned. He later retracted the statement amid a widespread outcry.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The executive order comes two days after the Women's March on Washington (pictured)

His campaign said Mr Trump believed decisions on the legality of the procedure should be left up to individual states, with any criminal penalties being reserved for abortion providers.

He has said he supports an abortion ban exception for "rape, incest and the life of the mother".

Mr Trump has also promised to fill a Supreme Court vacancy with a socially conservative judge.

Meanwhile, Congress has signalled its intention to withdraw federal funding from Planned Parenthood, a group that provides reproductive health services in the US and overseas.

Related Topics