QUESTION: Joining me now to talk about these international pro-life efforts is Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Secretary, welcome back to Washington Watch.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Tony, it’s great to be with you again. Thank you for having me on on this very special day.
QUESTION: It is a special day, and it’s a day that, even before you were Secretary, it’s an issue that you personally, as a member of Congress, were committed to. This administration is unparalleled in its promotion of the sanctity of human life, and that is throughout the ranks, from the top of the administration through every department. And many would not think that the Department of State would be involved in pro-life policy, but it’s a big issue at the Department of State.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Tony, it certainly is, and your point is well taken. President Trump has made sure to surround himself with leaders who each believe that life begins at conception, and we’ve worked diligently to protect the unborn in every sphere in which the United States Government has a role. As the Secretary of State, we have control of lots of taxpayer money. It goes around the world. We also are on the front lines of freedom, talking to nations around the world about the protection of the unborn. You spoke about what Secretary Azar and I did at the United Nations, what my team is doing in the field. Whenever we are interacting with our counterparts, we do so in a way that is mindful of the fact that our government has a responsibility to protect these innocent lives.
And then the second element of this is to your point about the resources. We have done our level best to make sure that no taxpayer dollar ever goes to fund an abortion. Abortion isn’t a human right. In fact, it takes a human life. And we’ve made that clear in the way we’ve allocated contracts, put restrictions on what organizations that receive U.S. taxpayer dollars can do. And we’re mindful that continuing these efforts will require vigorous enforcement in the weeks and months and years ahead.
QUESTION: Let me – it’s sometimes important to define terms, and our listeners are probably better educated than most when it comes to these terms, but for the sake of those that might be listening, the Mexico City Policy is a term we throw around quite frequently. Explain exactly what that does, because you’ve expanded it to cover about $9 billion worth of federal aid – or foreign aid. Explain Mexico City to our listeners.
SECRETARY POMPEO: So this is a historic Reagan era policy that has been undone by presidents that did not believe in the protection of human life, and when President Trump came in, we put it back in place. It essentially requires any resources that come from the American taxpayer to come along with a certification from the recipient that they would not use those monies in a way that advocated for or resulted in the absence of a protection for the unborn. What we have done to extend that is – there’s always risk that when you provide resources to one, they will sub-contract it, or they will flow that money to some other entity and thereby be able to certify that they didn’t do it but have enabled someone else to use those American dollars for that purpose. We’ve put in place programs and certification processes to prevent that from happening.
QUESTION: Oh, so it’s essentially stopping the pro-abortion shell game is all. I mean —
SECRETARY POMPEO: That’s right. It essentially doesn’t permit a company to use a third party – you call it a shell game – to use some clever legal tool to circumvent these very important restrictions on the use of American taxpayer dollars for abortions.
QUESTION: Now, correct me if I’m wrong but my close observation here in Washington is that the Trump administration, including the Department of State, is working to correct policies that have proliferated in the last several decades that are inconsistent with America’s founding values. So it’s not a matter of just pushing the pause button, but it’s a matter of going back and correcting America’s stand internationally.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Tony, you and I have been engaged in talking about this for a long time, way before I was the Secretary of State, back when I was the congressman from Kansas who invited the young Kansans who were on the March for Life to my office for hot chocolate and hand warmers after their march. We know this: America had this central set of founding principles, these unalienable rights that we were provided. And President Trump is requiring every institution, including the Department of State, to go back to these founding principles, the central ideas that make America so unique and special. And we’re today talking about the March For Life, that central idea of life and liberty and what that meant to our founders and how the United States Government has an obligation to protect that and to ensure that resources that the American Government has at its hands don’t go to those who would undermine those central values.
QUESTION: You’re listening to Washington Watch. I’m your host, Tony Perkins. My guest, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, talking about the pro-life policies that have come forth from the Department of State under the Trump administration.
I want to go, Mr. Secretary, to the letter that you and Secretary Azar – we had Secretary Azar on the program earlier. We were talking more the domestic policies, but in this July letter that you sent to international partnerships around the world, you not only talked about giving countries their – recognizing their sovereignty in allowing them to not be pressured into recognizing abortion or reproductive rights, as it’s often called, as a human right, but closely connected to that, you pointed to the family, and some of the things, the policies that are being pushed internationally that undermine the role of parents and divide families.
SECRETARY POMPEO: We asked every nation to use its power, its independent power as a sovereign country, to think about the centrality of family to the success of their nation. Alex and I both believe that deeply. An element of this is to protect the unborn, but another element is the central principles that deliver on the family unit as the central organizing tenet of successful civilizations.
And so many organizations, partnerships, international entities have sets of policies that don’t reflect that, and what Secretary Azar and I sought to do was to reshape the way countries think about this, to make sure they understood how important it was for them and for their peoples’ success to understand the risks when family is not at the center of how they think about how their countries can prosper and be secure.
QUESTION: If I can, let me ask a – kind of a defining question or one that would draw a contrast between previous administrations. When you talk about this, you’re essentially saying allow countries to make their own decisions based upon their religious conviction and cultural heritage and not force them through a form of cultural imperialism with our global policies to adhere to something that is an anathema to them.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Yes, Tony, you nailed it. They have often had international organizations show up on their doorstep and tie resources, funding, support, commitment, all the things that some of these countries who aren’t wealthy nations need – tie them to a set of policies that are inconsistent with what their culture and their heritage reflects and their religious beliefs in their particular country would reflect.
We’ve talked about religious freedom. We want to make sure every country has the understanding how central that is to their nation’s success and how they shouldn’t let a bureaucrat somewhere sitting in an international organization interfere with their country’s sovereign desire to allow their citizens to practice their – to practice religious freedom.
QUESTION: And again, I want to make very clear – because there’s some on the left that are saying, well, you’re just trying to impose the Trump values on these countries. When it comes to religious freedom, for instance, it’s not an American standard of religious freedom; it’s an international standard going back to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights —
SECRETARY POMPEO: Declaration, yeah, absolutely.
QUESTION: — in 1948.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Tony, it’s absolutely the case. Now, these aren’t any administration’s ephemeral, temporal values that they bring to it. These are the fundamental rights that each human being is granted by our creator and who are enshrined in international human rights doctrine dating back to that very document you described. It’s in our founding, it’s in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and what we are seeking to do is to ensure that these international organizations don’t interfere of that country’s sovereign decision to do that, to execute and protect those very rights.
QUESTION: Yeah. I think that is an extremely important point to make that this is not just the reverse side of cultural imperialism that we saw in the last administration, but it’s allowing these countries to operate according to universal standards of freedom, freedom of religion, and their own cultural and religious convictions.
Mr. Secretary, I want to thank you for being so generous with your time. We are grateful for what you’re doing as Secretary of State in advancing an understanding of the sanctity of human life literally around the world. So, thanks so much for joining us on this special Friday edition of Washington Watch.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Thank you. Thank you so much, Tony. Bless you. Have a wonderful rest of your day.
QUESTION: All right. Thanks so much.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Yes, sir.