Global Health Legislative & Policy Requirements

Restrictions on Support for Abortions

There are several legislative and policy restrictions relating to abortions. USAID takes these restrictions very seriously and works with Missions and partners to ensure compliance in their programs.

Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance

(Formerly known as the Mexico City Policy)

On January 23, 2017, President Trump issued a Presidential Memorandum reinstating the 2001 Presidential Memorandum on the Mexico City Policy for USAID family planning assistance and directing the Secretary of State to implement a plan to extend the requirements of the Mexico City Policy to “global health assistance furnished by all Departments or Agencies.” To implement the Mexico City Policy for family planning assistance, USAID issued a new standard provision on March 2, 2017.

On May 9, 2017, Secretary Tillerson approved a plan, called “Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance,” under which U.S. Government Departments and Agencies will apply the provisions of the Mexico City Policy to grants, cooperative agreements, and contracts with foreign non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that receive global health assistance. The policy requires foreign NGOs to agree, as a condition of receiving global health assistance, that they do not perform or actively promote abortion as a method of family planning.  Under this expanded policy, “global health assistance,” as it applies to USAID, encompasses all global health programs, including HIV/AIDS, maternal and child health, malaria, global health security, and family planning and reproductive health.  The policy does not apply to humanitarian assistance.  Pursuant to the plan, the policy also does not apply to national or sub-national governments, public international organizations, and other multilateral entities in which sovereign nations participate.

For Assistance Awards (Cooperative Agreements and Grants):

For Contracts:

The Helms Amendment

No foreign assistance funds may be used to pay for the performance of abortion as a method of family planning or to motivate or coerce any person to practice abortions. USAID continues to support post-abortion care, which includes emergency treatment, counseling on and provision of family planning options, and community mobilization.

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Under the Helms Amendment, post-abortion care is permitted. USAID post-abortion care programs include emergency treatment for complications of induced or spontaneous abortion, counseling on and provision of family planning options, and community mobilization.

Sources: Section 104(f) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, as amended; Annual Foreign Operations Appropriations Acts.

The Leahy Amendment

The term "motivate," as it relates to family planning assistance, shall not be construed to prohibit the provision, consistent with local law, of information or counseling about all pregnancy options.

Source: Annual Foreign Operations Appropriations Acts.

The Siljander Amendment

No foreign assistance funds may be used to lobby for or against abortion.

Source: Annual Foreign Operations Appropriations Acts.

The Biden Amendment

No foreign assistance funds may be used to pay for any biomedical research which relates, in whole or in part, to methods of, or the performance of, abortions or involuntary sterilization as a means of family planning.

Sources: Section 104(f) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, as amended; Annual Foreign Operations Appropriations Acts.

Additional Resources

Last updated: May 25, 2017

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