THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release January 23, 2009
Statement of President Barack Obama on Rescinding the Mexico City Policy
"It is clear that the provisions of the Mexico City Policy are unnecessarily broad and unwarranted under current law, and for the past eight years, they have undermined efforts to promote safe and effective voluntary family planning in developing countries. For these reasons, it is right for us to rescind this policy and restore critical efforts to protect and empower women and promote global economic development.
"For too long, international family planning assistance has been used as a political wedge issue, the subject of a back and forth debate that has served only to divide us. I have no desire to continue this stale and fruitless debate.
"It is time that we end the politicization of this issue. In the coming weeks, my Administration will initiate a fresh conversation on family planning, working to find areas of common ground to best meet the needs of women and families at home and around the world.
"I have directed my staff to reach out to those on all sides of this issue to achieve the goal of reducing unintended pregnancies. They will also work to promote safe motherhood, reduce maternal and infant mortality rates and increase educational and economic opportunities for women and girls.
"In addition, I look forward to working with Congress to restore U.S. financial support for the U.N. Population Fund. By resuming funding to UNFPA, the U.S. will be joining 180 other donor nations working collaboratively to reduce poverty, improve the health of women and children, prevent HIV/AIDS and provide family planning assistance to women in 154 countries,” said President Obama.
Memorandum for the Secretary of State
the Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development
Subject: Mexico City Policy and Assistance for Voluntary Population Planning
The Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (22 U.S.C. 2151b(f)(1)), prohibits nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) that receive Federal funds from using those funds "to pay for the performance of abortions as a method of family planning, or to motivate or coerce any person to practice abortions." The August 1984 announcement by President Reagan of what has become known as the "Mexico City Policy" directed the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to expand this limitation and withhold USAID funds from NGOs that use non-USAID funds to engage in a wide range of activities, including providing advice, counseling, or information regarding abortion, or lobbying a foreign government to legalize or make abortion available. The Mexico City Policy was in effect from 1985 until 1993, when it was rescinded by President Clinton. President George W. Bush reinstated the policy in 2001, implementing it through conditions in USAID grant awards, and subsequently extended the policy to "voluntary population planning" assistance provided by the Department of State.
These excessively broad conditions on grants and assistance awards are unwarranted. Moreover, they have undermined efforts to promote safe and effective voluntary family planning programs in foreign nations. Accordingly, I hereby revoke the Presidential memorandum of January 22, 2001, for the Administrator of USAID (Restoration of the Mexico City Policy), the Presidential memorandum of March 28, 2001, for the Administrator of USAID (Restoration of the Mexico City Policy), and the Presidential memorandum of August 29, 2003, for the Secretary of State (Assistance for Voluntary Population Planning). In addition, I direct the Secretary of State and the Administrator of USAID to take the following actions with respect to conditions in voluntary population planning assistance and USAID grants that were imposed pursuant to either the 2001 or 2003 memoranda and that are not required by the Foreign Assistance Act or any other law: (1) immediately waive such conditions in any current grants, and (2) notify current grantees, as soon as possible, that these conditions have been waived. I further direct that the Department of State and USAID immediately cease imposing these conditions in any future grants.
This memorandum is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.
The Secretary of State is authorized and directed to publish this memorandum in the Federal Register.
THE WHITE HOUSE, January 23, 2009.
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U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Office of the Spokesman
For Immediate Release January 23, 2009
STATEMENT BY SECRETARY OF STATE HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON
Repeal of the Mexico City Policy
President Obama's repeal of the global gag rule, which has prevented women around the world from gaining access to essential information and healthcare services, is a welcomed and important step taken during the first days of the Administration.
For the past seven years, this policy has made it more difficult for women around the world to gain access to essential information and healthcare services. Rather than limiting women's ability to receive reproductive health services, we should be supporting programs that help women and their partners make decisions to ensure their health and the health of their families.
As I said in Beijing at the United Nations 4th World Conference on Women, women must not be denied the right to plan their own families. I look forward to working with the President, my colleagues in the Administration, and the NGO community to promote programs and policies that ensure women and girls have full access to health information and services.
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23 January 2009
UNFPA WELCOMES RESTORATION OF U.S. FUNDING
UNITED NATIONS, New York, 23 January 2009- The United Nations Population
Fund (UNFPA) applauds today's statement from United States President
Barack Obama restoring U.S. funding for UNFPA's operations.
President Obama said: "I look forward to working with Congress to
restore U.S. financial support for the U.N. Population Fund. By resuming
funding to UNFPA, the U.S. will be joining 180 other donor nations
working collaboratively to reduce poverty, improve the health of women
and children, prevent HIV/AIDS and provide family planning assistance to
women in 154 countries."
UNFPA Executive Director, Thoraya Ahmed Obaid welcomes President Obama's
decision to restore funding and noted how quickly he addressed the
issue. "The President's actions send a strong message about his
leadership and his desire to support causes that will promote peace and
dignity, equality for women and girls and economic development in the
poorest regions of the world. And access to reproductive health is at
the core of all of these issues."
There is much to be done. More than halfway towards the 2015 target date
for the Millennium Development Goals, the goal that addresses improving
maternal and reproductive health has made the least progress and is the
"We are confident that under the new President's direction, the U.S.
will resume its leadership in promoting and protecting women's
reproductive health and rights worldwide," said. Ms. Obaid. "This is an
essential step towards creating a world where all women have the
opportunity to participate as equal members of society."
Globally, the rate of death from pregnancy and childbirth has declined
just one percent between 1990 and 2005. Every minute a women loses her
life giving life, adding up to 10 million women over a generation.
Ninety-nine per cent of these deaths occur in developing countries,
particularly in Africa and Asia.
"President Obama's decision could not have come at a more critical
time," said Ms. Obaid. "If women are to stop dying in childbirth and if
reproductive health for all is to become a reality, we need increased
political and financial commitment at all levels to implement strategies
that we know will work. With the renewed US support to women and to
UNFPA, the odds of that happening are greatly improved."
Congressionally-approved funding for UNFPA has been withheld by the U.S.
Administration for the past seven years. During that time, the Fund has
not received a total of $244 million in U.S. funding. "Restoration of
funding will allow us to maintain recent gains during the current
financial crisis and provide support to women in some of the poorest
countries in the world," said Ms. Obaid. "Progress for all will not
happen without progress for women. This means working to promote, as an
international priority, the advancement of women's health, rights and
UNFPA also welcomes President Obama's decision to engage his
administration on family planning issues, restoring critical efforts to
protect and empower women. Access to voluntary family planning is one of
the most effective ways to prevent unintended pregnancies and reduce
"UNFPA stands ready to work with President Obama, Secretary Clinton and
the American people to achieve our dream of helping women and girls in
the poorest countries reach their fullest potential. We welcome the
opportunity to work with the United States again as a full partner."
UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, is an international
development agency that promotes the right of every woman, man and child
to enjoy a life of health and equal opportunity. UNFPA supports
countries in using population data for policies and programmes to reduce
poverty and to ensure that every pregnancy is wanted, every birth is
safe, every young person is free of HIV/AIDS, and every girl and woman is treated with
dignity and respect. UNFPA -- because everyone counts.