After four years under a pro-life president, this year’s March for Life took place—mostly virtually—one day after a new administration rescinded the Mexico City Policy, one of a number of things President Joe Biden has promised to do to increase access to abortions.
In light of the pandemic, the organization asked supporters to stay home and join the march virtually. It did invite a small group of pro-life leaders from across the country to march in Washington, D.C. “These leaders will represent pro-life Americans everywhere who, each in their own unique ways, work to make abortion unthinkable and build a culture where every human life is valued and protected,” the organization said in a statement.
The Mexico City Policy, which was first enacted under President Ronald Reagan in 1984, required foreign non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to certify that they would not “perform or actively promote abortion as a method of family planning” using funds from any source as a condition of receiving U.S. government global family planning funding.
Reagan first announced the policy at the 2nd International Conference on Population, which was held in Mexico City, Mexico. The policy has been rescinded and reinstated by subsequent administrations along party lines. It has been in effect for 21 of the past 36 years.
Under the Trump administration, it was renamed “Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance” (PLGHA) and has been referred to by critics as the “Global Gag Rule.” Trump expanded the policy to apply to maternal and child health, malaria, nutrition and other U.S. programs, potentially encompassing $7.3 billion in fiscal year 2020 alone.
The Trump administration also moved to further tighten restrictions, reaching other areas of U.S. development assistance beyond global health and other non-U.S. funding streams.
In rescinding the policy, President Biden required agencies involved in foreign assistance to immediately end the imposition of the policy in future awards, waive the policy’s application in existing awards, and notify recipients as soon as possible that the policy conditions have been waived.
Evangelical leaders expressed their dismay at the president’s action.
“A very sad day for the nation,” tweeted Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
“Rescinding the Mexico policy on the eve of the March for Life is a deeply disturbing move,” tweeted Jeanne Mancini, president of March for Life. “Especially when the president says he wants national unity. It goes against the wishes of an overwhelming majority of Americans.”
Consistent polling shows that 77% of Americans oppose taxpayer funding for abortion overseas, Mancini said.
“The government should never force taxpayers to fund abortions, either here or abroad, but should work to protect the inherent dignity of all persons, born and unborn,” she tweeted.
The pro-life Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) of the Southern Baptist Convention says without the Mexico City Policy, foreign organizations that “promote and perform abortions” can use U.S. funds “to pay for salaries and other marketing costs to promote abortion, freeing their own funds to be used to perform abortions.”
“As long as the abortions are not directly being paid for by federal funds, then the abortion-promoting agency is not in violation of the” Helms Amendment, an ERLC analysis of the Mexico City Policy says.
“When the policy is in place, though, the abortion providers are not only hindered in their promotion efforts, they are less likely to be able to operate in foreign countries,” the ERLC analysis says.
Regardless of Biden’s decision about the Mexico City Policy or any other pro-abortion legislation, the work of pro-lifers and specifically March for Life will go on, organizers say.
“When we have a pro-life administration … we’re marching to encourage them and show support,” Carol Tobias, the president of the national Right to Life Committee, who is among a those invited to march in person on Friday, told CNN. “And when we have a pro-abortion administration, like we currently have now, it’s to let them know that we’re not going away.”
Speakers at today’s event encouraged pro-life supporters to continue to stand for the cause. Cissie Graham Lynch offered a prayer.
“Lord, I pray for the church, that we would be united—united with love, united with truth—to face this issue because this issue breaks Your heart. And I pray that as a church our heart will be broken by the things that break Your heart.”
Above: Marchers walk as they participate in the 48th Annual March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 29.
Photo: AP Photo/Susan Walsh