USAID's Family Planning Guiding Principles and U.S. Legislative and Policy Requirements

Restrictions on Support for Abortions

Since the enactment of legislation in 1973, recipients of U.S. family planning assistance have been legally prohibited from supporting abortion as a method of family planning using U.S. funds. USAID is committed to expanding access to voluntary family planning and reducing unintended pregnancies which saves lives and reduces reliance on abortion. USAID continues to support post-abortion care, which includes emergency treatment, counseling on and provision of family planning options, and community mobilization.

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.

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: FY 2006 Appropriations Act, Title II, "Child Survival and Health Programs Fund" and/or Title V, Section 518.

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.

Rescission of the Mexico City Policy

On January 23, 2009, President Obama rescinded the Mexico City Policy. The Mexico City Policy had required foreign nongovernmental organizations to certify that they will not perform or actively promote abortion as a method of family planning using funds generated from any source as a condition for receiving USAID family planning assistance. The Mexico City Policy had been in effect from 1985 until 1993, when it was rescinded by President Clinton. President Bush reinstated the policy in 2001, and it remained in place from 2001-2009.  In rescinding the policy, President Obama directed USAID to immediately waive the policy’s conditions in any current grants; notify current grantees, as soon as possible, that these conditions have been waived; and immediately cease imposing these conditions in any future grants. Read this in Spanish [PDF, 8KB], French [PDF, 19KB], and Arabic [PDF, 61KB].

Principles & Policy Requirements

Restrictions on Support for Abortions

Voluntarism and Informed Choice

 

Last updated: October 26, 2016

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