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Mexico City Policy

How it Helps Save the World's Unborn

What is the Mexico City Policy?

The Mexico City Policy is a policy of the U.S. Government that prohibits funding for foreign NGOs that perform or promote abortion as a method of family planning in USAID recipient countries, or that provide financial support to another foreign NGO that does. The policy applies not only to primary recipients of applicable foreign assistance but also to foreign NGO subrecipients.

When has the Mexico City Policy been implemented?

The Mexico City Policy was first introduced by the Reagan Administration as a policy statement delivered at the second session of the United Nations International Conference on Population in Mexico City in August of 1984.3 The policy was first implemented the following year.4 Since then, the Mexico City Policy has been rescinded by Democrat presidents and reinstated by Republican presidents via presidential memorandum. Congress has only reinstated the Mexico City Policy once when a modified version of the policy was included in the state and foreign operations appropriations act for the 2000 fiscal year.

How is the Mexico City Policy enforced?

Prior to receiving a disbursement, foreign NGOs recipient of applicable funding are required to certify that they will not perform or promote abortion as a method of family planning. Domestic NGOs are required to obtain this certification from foreign NGO subrecipients and to monitor them for compliance with the Policy. USAID reserves the right to review subrecipients for compliance, request relevant documents, and initiate investigations. Organizations that fail to comply with the Policy are subject to award termination and are required to return the amount of the award expended on prohibited activities. Subrecipients that submit false certifications are required to refund the entire sum of the award received.

Is the Mexico City Policy constitutional?

Yes. The Mexico City Policy has been challenged numerous times, but federal and appellate courts have ultimately sided with the Government every time a case has been brought against it. In Center for Reproductive Law and Policy v. Bush, the most recent case brought against the Mexico City Policy in 2002, the court opined “the Supreme Court has made clear that the government is free to favor the anti-abortion position over the pro-choice position, and can do so with public funds.” 6 Section 104 of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (22 U.S.C. §2151b(b)) grants the President the ability to determine how family planning assistance is allocated:

Mexico City Policy Timeline:

  • 1985: Mexico City Policy first implemented by Reagan Administration. 
  • 1993: President Bill Clinton signs a
    presidential memorandum
    rescinding the Mexico City Policy

  • 2001: President George W. Bush signs a presidential memorandum
    reinstating the Mexico City Policy

  • 2009: President Barack
    Obama signs a presidential memorandum rescinding the Mexico City Policy

  • 2017: President Donald
    Trump signs a presidential memorandum reinstating the Mexico City Policy

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The Population Research Institute helped ensure the creation of the Mexico City Policy back in the 1980s. Today, under the Trump administration, the Mexico City Policy is stronger than it has ever been in history.


Legislate for Mexico City Policy to become permanent law.