Shaheen, Collins Lead Bipartisan Letter to President Trump Expressing Opposition to Mexico City Policy & Questioning Impact of Expansion on U.S. Global Health Programs

March 06, 2017

**SENATORS: “We look forward to hearing from you on the effect that the new Executive Action will have on U.S. efforts to save the lives of women and children who are dying from preventable causes.” 

**Senators request information on plans for implementation and seek clarification on how Trump’s expanded policy would impact AIDS relief and Zika response efforts** 

(Washington, DC) — U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Susan Collins (R-ME) sent a bipartisan letter to President Donald Trump today expressing their opposition to the Mexico City Policy that the Trump Administration reinstated on January 23, 2017. The Mexico City Policy blocks U.S. funding for foreign NGOs that provide basic women’s health care, including critical family planning services, if they also offer information on abortion or provide abortion services with separate non-U.S. funds. The letter, also signed by Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Angus King (I-ME), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), and Ben Cardin (D-MD), expresses additional concerns for the drastically broadened scope of the policy, which now affects all global health assistance, and requests the Trump Administration inform Congress how the Executive Action will be implemented to minimize the disruption of services. 

“Investing in the health and rights of girls and women – specifically ensuring they can plan their families, is a strategic investment that yields direct returns to the United States,” the Senators wrote. “The Mexico City Policy undermines those investments and disrupts the delivery of key health services.”

In the letter, the Senators draw attention to the impact of the policy and its expanded scope that now includes the bipartisan President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and all other global health programs funded through the Department of State, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). PEPFAR is the largest provider of anti-retroviral medicines in the world and because of the program, two million children have been born without HIV to infected mothers. “We want to ensure that the reactivation of the Mexico City Policy will not harm the pivotal role that PEPFAR and other global health investments have played in saving millions of lives in Africa and around the world,” the Senators wrote. 

The Senators further requested the Trump Administration provide guidance on a series of questions related to the implementation of the executive action and how it would affect women and girls, as well as how the Executive Action would prevent further spread of Zika and HIV/AIDS.

“We look forward to hearing from you on the effect that the new Executive Action will have on U.S. efforts to save the lives of women and children who are dying from preventable causes,” the letter concludes. “We look forward to continuing to work together to ensure that U.S. investments in global health are effective, efficient, and contribute to a more secure world for the United States.”

Senators Collins, Murkowski, King, Blumenthal and Cardin are co-sponsors of Senator Shaheen’s Global Health, Empowerment, and Rights (HER) Act, legislation that would permanently repeal the Mexico City Policy.

A copy of the letter to President Trump is available online and below.

March 6, 2017

Dear President Trump,

We write to today to express our concern regarding the Presidential Memorandum Regarding the Mexico City Policy of January 23, 2017.

Investing in the health and rights of girls and women – specifically ensuring they can plan their families, is a strategic investment that yields direct returns to the United States. The Mexico City Policy undermines those investments and disrupts the delivery of key health services.

The issued Presidential Memorandum drastically broadened the scope of the policy to include all global health assistance which may encompass as much as fifteen times more federal funding than previous Republican administrations’ versions of this policy. The broadened scope now includes the bipartisan President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and all other global health programs funded through the Department of State, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Because of the bipartisan support PEPFAR has enjoyed through the administrations of President Bush and President Obama, two million children have been born without HIV to infected mothers. PEPFAR is the largest provider of anti-retroviral medicines in the world, PEPFAR has prevented countless further infections. Since 2005, the number of US-supported people who are receiving anti-retroviral medicines has increased from 50,000 to 11.5 million. We want to ensure that the reactivation of the Mexico City Policy will not harm the pivotal role that PEPFAR and other global health investments have played in saving millions of lives in Africa and around the world.

We request the following information regarding how the Executive Action will be implemented, and how it will affect these vital, live-saving programs:

1. Did the Administration conduct an assessment of how the implementation of this Executive Action would specifically affect women and girls, and if so, what was the result?

2. Did the Administration conduct a cost-benefit assessment to examine whether the implementation of this policy would result in greater results at equal or less cost compared to the existing implementation of global health activities? If so, please provide this assessment by agency, country, or investment.

3. Did the Administration conduct an assessment of how many lives would be saved or lost as a result of the implementation of this Executive Order, and if so, what was the result

4. Given the role that contraceptives have played in the prevention of Zika and HIV/AIDS, did the Administration conduct an assessment of how the implementation of this Executive Action would affect efforts to prevent further spread of those diseases?

We are eager to hear from you regarding the effect that the new Executive Action will have on U.S. efforts to save the lives of women and children who are dying from preventable causes. We look forward to continuing to work together to ensure that U.S. investments in global health are effective, efficient, and contribute to a more secure world for the United States.