The Center for Reproductive Rights has called on the Biden administration to take quick and decisive action to reverse the Trump administration’s harmful policies and to move forward to advance human rights and reproductive rights in the U.S. and around the world.
The inauguration of Joseph R. Biden, Jr. as President and Kamala Harris as Vice President presents an opportunity to put human rights, including reproductive rights, at the center of a new U.S. domestic and foreign policy agenda.
In a statement issued in conjunction with the inauguration, the Center’s president and CEO Nancy Northup urged the new administration to immediately:
- Promote the health and well-being of women and girls in U.S. foreign policy by:
- Rescinding the Mexico City Policy or “Global Gag Rule,” which bans federal funding to international health care providers if they provide counsel or advocate for abortion access, even when using a separate funding source to do so.
- Restoring reporting on sexual and reproductive health and rights in the State Department’s annual country reports on human rights.
- Restoring funding to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the lead UN agency focused on sexual and reproductive health, and rejoining and restoring funding to the World Health Organization (WHO), which coordinates research and sets global standards on sexual and reproductive health and rights.
- Pushing for the Congressional repeal of the Helms Amendment, which bars U.S. foreign aid from being used for abortion services.
- Rescind Trump-era regulations, including: the Domestic Gag Rule, which prohibits clinics receiving Title X family planning funds from referring patients for abortion services; regulations that allow health care workers to deny reproductive health services and information; and regulations that allow employers and universities to deny contraceptive coverage to their employees and students.
- Promote reproductive health policies guided by science, not ideology—an approach that should also be taken by the FDA to allow access to medication abortion by telemedicine, the same approach it takes with other drugs.
- Support policies to end racial disparities in maternal health care by launching an interagency task force on maternal care; promoting expansion of Medicaid coverage to at least one year postpartum; and championing passage of the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act.
The Center has also partnered with reproductive health, rights, and justice organizations to issue ”First Priorities for the Blueprint for Sexual and Reproductive Health, Rights, and Justice,” outlining priorities for executive and agency actions; and joined with health and science organizations to issue a memo outlining steps for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to take to restore scientific integrity and adopt evidence-based policies for sexual and reproductive health education and services.
Blueprint Highlights Actions on Sexual and Reproductive Health, Rights, and Justice
The Blueprint’s First Priorities report, which the Center was a partner in developing, urges the Biden administration to take a series of actions “in the first days and months in office to demonstrate its commitment to sexual and reproductive health, rights, and justice.” These actions include many of those described above, and others including:
- Pursuing domestic policies that protect and expand access to comprehensive reproductive health care and uphold sexual and reproductive rights in the U.S.
- Proposing a budget that ends the Hyde Amendment, which denies coverage of abortion care for people insured through Medicaid and other federal programs, and the Helms Amendment.
- Rescinding earlier executive actions that limit access to care, including the “Global Gag Rule.”
- Extending Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) coverage, as well as Medicaid coverage, to at least 12 months postpartum so that children and families with low incomes are covered beyond pregnancy and the immediate postpartum period.
- Re-engaging globally and with the United Nations to advance people’s health and rights, and directing the State Department to “champion sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) in UN meetings and multilateral forums.”
- Releasing pregnant and postpartum people from the immigration detention system.
- Nominating and appointing diverse officials who are experts in their field and have positive records on reproductive health, rights, and justice.
Memo Urges HHS to Restore Scientific Integrity
“Restoring Science, Protecting the Public: HHS Sexual and Reproductive Health, Education and Services” outlines key actions the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services can take to restore principles of scientific integrity and return to a science-based approach to family planning and reproductive health. Among its recommendations are:
- Requiring that evidence, not political considerations, drive HHS-funded programs on sexual and reproductive health education and services and drug and device approval.
- Pursuing policies that advance equity.
- Ending regressive policies such as the “refusal of care” rules that encourage health care providers and others to deny health care and services to patients based on religious or moral objections.
- Dissolving the Conscience and Religious Freedom Division within HHS’s Office for Civil Rights, and restoring HHS’s Office of Adolescent Health.
- Rescinding the regulation narrowing Affordable Care Act's (ACA) Section 1557. This regulation allowed discrimination against women, pregnant people, and the LGBTQ community.
The Center is also advocating for the enactment of the Women’s Health Protection Act (WHPA), which establishes a statutory right for health care professionals to provide abortion care and the right for their patients to receive care, free from medically unnecessary restrictions that single out abortion care; and the EACH Woman Act, which would ensure that anyone who gets care or insurance through the federal government will be covered for all pregnancy-related care, including abortion.
As the new Biden administration gets under way, the Center for Reproductive Rights will work with its partners in and out of government to advance reproductive rights as fundamental human rights in the U.S. and around the world and to build legal guarantees to the right of every person to access reproductive health care and to make their own decisions about their reproductive lives.
Photo credit: Mike Morgan