President Trump reinstated Jan. 23 a ban on federal funds for organizations that perform or promote abortions overseas in one of what is expected to be a series of executive orders overturning current policies.
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The order was among three the new president signed on his third day in office as part of his administration’s plan to make policy changes in such areas as health care, immigration, trade and the environment. On Monday, Trump also signed executive orders revoking a trade agreement with Asia known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership and instituting a hiring freeze for federal government posts other than those in the military.
Acting the day after the 44th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s legalization of abortion, Trump signed an order restoring what is known as the Mexico City Policy, which President Obama had rescinded three days after he was inaugurated in 2009. The rule – first implemented by President Reagan at a 1984 conference in Mexico City – prohibits international family planning organizations from receiving federal funds unless they agree not to perform or counsel for abortions or lobby in order to liberalize the pro-life policies of foreign governments.
Pro-life advocates applauded Trump’s action.
“This decision will save lives, will encourage the hundreds of thousands of men and women who will march on Washington this week [at the Jan. 27 March for Life] for the rights of unborn children, along with millions more around the country who believe that foreign aid should promote life, not end it,” said Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC).
“This is a welcome step in the right direction, and my hope is that the president will continue to defend human dignity and hold the predatory abortion industry accountable,” Moore said in a written release.
Rep. Diane Black, R.-Tenn., said in a written statement, “With this compassionate executive order, President Trump has turned the page from a sad chapter in his predecessor’s legacy and has already started to make good on his promises to the millions of pro-life Americans that helped him ascend to this office.”
She praised Trump “for protecting the conscience rights of American taxpayers and prioritizing federal funding for organizations that protect life over those that take it away.”
The Mexico City Policy has been on a political seesaw for more than three decades. After Reagan’s action, it remained in force until 1993, when President Clinton rescinded it. President George W. Bush reinstated it eight years later, only to see it overturned by Obama.
Only two organizations – the International Planned Parenthood Federation and Marie Stopes International – had refused to abide by the Mexico City Policy in the years just prior to Obama’s repeal and consequently were refused the funds, Democrats for Life of America (DFLA) reported at the time. There were 650 organizations that accepted federal money under the restrictions, according to DFLA.
The ERLC and other pro-life organizations have urged Trump also to act with his executive authority to overturn the Obama administration’s abortion/contraception mandate. That regulation from the Department of Health and Human Services helping implement the 2010 health-care law requires employers to provide their workers with coverage for contraceptives with mechanisms that can potentially induce abortions.
On the day of his inauguration, Trump issued his first executive order – one seeking to ease the impact of the 2010 health-care law. His order indicated his administration’s intent to repeal the controversial law and directed all federal departments and agencies to waive or delay provisions that would cause financial or regulatory burdens for states, individuals, health-care providers or insurance companies.
Shortly before the November election, Trump released a 100-day plan he described as his “Contract With the American Voter.” He included among his actions for immediate pursuit:
- Renegotiation of or withdrawal from the North American Fair Trade Agreement;
- Choosing a replacement for the late Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia from his list of 20 judges;
- Removal from the country of more than two million illegal immigrants who are criminals;
- Discontinuing immigration from “terror-prone regions;“
- Elimination of billions of dollars in payments to United Nations climate-change programs.
Trump also committed to work with Congress to repeal and replace the health-care law, to divert education funds to school-choice programs and to stop illegal immigration by funding the construction of a wall on the Mexican border and other provisions.
The ERLC has also released agenda for 2017. Released Jan. 18, its Legislative and Policy Agenda includes:
- Selection of a pro-life Supreme Court nominee to replace Scalia;
- Defunding of Planned Parenthood, the country’s No. 1 abortion provider;
- Appointment in quick fashion of an ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom;
- Passage of the First Amendment Defense Act, which would bar the federal government from penalizing an individual or institution for believing marriage is only between a man and a woman.
- Enactment of the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act, which would institute a permanent, government-wide ban on federal funding of abortion.
The House of Representatives reportedly will vote Jan. 24 on the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act.
Travis Wussow, the ERLC’s vice president for public policy, told Baptist Press in written comments Trump’s “presidency creates many opportunities, including a pro-life Supreme Court justice, defunding Planned Parenthood and the repeal of the HHS mandate. We are praying for President Trump and Vice President [Mike] Pence, and we look forward to working with the new administration in these next crucial months.”
On the day of the inauguration, the ERLC’s Moore called for Christians to pray for Trump’s presidency to be “a great and good one” whether or not they voted for him.
In praying for Trump, Christians should request physical safety and wisdom, Moore wrote in an opinion piece for The Washington Post. They also should pray for him to lead the world toward peace and “to model what it means for an often-divided nation to live in peace and civility with one another, even when we disagree,” he said.
Moore urged Christians not to “undermine the legitimacy of our new president.”
“Evangelical believers can and often do publicly disagree with our elected officials over important issues, and holding those in power accountable is part of our duty,” Moore wrote. “But that accountability does not entail proclamations of ‘Not my president.’ Such statements were wrong and irresponsible when some said them during the last administration, and they are still wrong and irresponsible now applied to the new administration.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Tom Strode is Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention’s news service.)