Mexico City Policy must never again be reinstated

28 JANUARY 2021

Plan International applauds today’s expected executive action by President Joseph Biden to end U.S. government efforts to restrict access to reproductive health and rights around the world through the so called Mexico City Policy (MCP).

The negative impact the expanded MCP has had on the lives of millions of vulnerable girls and women across the world during the last four years is well documented and is likely to have a lasting impact. In fact, the State Department’s own study from August 2020 confirmed what global health organizations and advocates have known for years: the MCP disrupts access to health services. The report clearly outlines disruptions in care spanning global health programs, including for HIV/AIDS, family planning and reproductive health, tuberculosis and nutrition.

Furthermore a Stanford University study found the MCP does not even meet its own goals, stating that there is ‘a substantial increase in abortions among women affected by the U.S. Mexico City Policy.’ In addition, it causes vulnerable girls and women to suffer as a result of vital sexual and reproductive health services being withdrawn.

Reinforcing a June 2018 report from the Center for Health and Gender Equity, the Stanford study published in The Lancet finds that when the policy is in place, highly affected countries experience ‘a rise of approximately 40% in relation to the average abortion rate’, versus when the policy is not in effect. This enormous increase in abortion rates is also mirrored by a decline in the use of contraception and an increase in unwanted pregnancies. 

Sexual and reproductive health care services and information improve girls’ and women’s lives

Quality sexual and reproductive health care services and information can transform the lives of girls and women, as well as their communities. The wider benefits of these services are helping pull millions out of poverty. Lack of access to sexual and reproductive health care services and information has broad implications that go beyond health, often impacting girls’ and young women’s educational opportunities and career prospects.

Plan International’s experience shows that comprehensive sexuality education and access to quality contraceptive services can significantly improve girls’ and women’s lives. Therefore, it is imperative that the MCP be permanently repealed. With this goal in mind, Plan International supports the Global HER bill in the U.S. Congress, which passed the House of Representatives last year. The bill would prohibit the MCP by law, thus preventing future presidents from reinstating it on their own through executive orders.