The Claim: President Joe Biden’s new executive order allows the United States to fund abortions provided in other counties.
What’s known as the “Mexico City policy” (or the “global gag order”, as some refer to it) was created by former President Ronald Reagan in 1985.
The policy provides a mandate against the United States funding any NGO (non-governmental organization), or other organization types, that use money for performing abortions or advocating for them, no matter where the money comes from.
In short, if NGOs want to receive U.S. funding they must refrain from allocating any part of their budget to anything abortion related whatsoever, even if they use non-U.S. fund to do so.
It’s common for a Democratic president to rescind this policy during their presidency, followed by it getting reinstated during Republican presidency. This back-and-forth between administration has taken place since 1985. Naturally, Biden rescinded the policy just after being sworn into office.
The global gag policy clearly only addresses how NGOs can use their non-U.S. funds. Through the 1973 Helms Amendment, the federal government has already banned funding abortions directly. This is a law that still stands today and can only be changed through a congressional vote to overturn.
Therefore, it’s false to says that Joe Biden “signed an executive order allowing the U.S. to fund abortions outside the country”, because he can’t simply rescind the global gag policy through executive order.
Joe Biden did, however, use his executive order to rescind a policy that prevented non-abortion funding to go to organizations that perform or advocate for abortions using their non-U.S. obtained money.
Donald Trump expanded anti-abortion policies abroad in March 2017, which blocked U.S. federal funds to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the fund that oversees abortion related issues.
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UNFPA is the agency whose “mission is to deliver a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe and every young person’s potential is fulfilled.”
Trump also enacted a federal rule deemed the “domestic gag rule”, which is a policy that aims to block organizations that simply refer patients for abortion from receiving federal family planning aid.
“Organizations that receive federal funds have already been prohibited for years from using that money to finance abortion services,” the New York Times points out, but Trump’s rule too it “a step further by ordering them to keep separate books for their abortion operations.” Joe Biden took immediate action against these move by Trump as, reports the Washington Post:
“[Biden] directed the Department of Health and Human Services to review a rule instated by Trump that cut off federal funding for domestic family planning programs involved with abortions, such as Planned Parenthood, and ordered the restoration of funding to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), which Trump had cut in a dispute over abortion provisions.”
However, there were no executive orders signed by Joe Biden that allows the United States federal government to fund abortions abroad. This has been prohibited since 1973 and requires a congressional vote to overturn.