NBC News reported that President-elect Joe Biden is ready to reverse several of the most restrictive sexual and reproductive health policies implemented during the Trump administration, including limits on abortion.
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Reproductive rights advocates hope Biden will swiftly overturn Trump-era rules, such as banning federal funding for domestic and foreign health organizations that promote and provide abortion and giving employers more freedom to deny free contraceptive coverage. To their workers.
“We have a lot of work to do to repair the damage in the last four years, but knowing that we have champions there who understand what needs to happen in the first 100 days is tremendously exciting,” said Alexis McGill Johnson, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood. .
Opponents of abortion rights are concerned about possible new measures and warn that they will continue to press. “It is certainly discouraging, but we are not going to give up and we will do everything we can to prevent abortion from being promoted,” said Carol Tobias, chair of the National Committee for the Right to Life, who said she expects a wave of restrictions on abortion. statewide this year.
Biden is a devout Catholic and his position on abortion has evolved throughout his career. Most recently, in 2019, she abandoned her long-standing support for the Hyde Amendment, a decades-long policy restricting federal funding for abortions, after having faced mounting criticism. He has also promised to code Roe vs. Wade and fighting state policies that limit access to abortion.
Here are some of the ways that Biden has indicated it will restore and improve access to reproductive health care:
The politics of Mexico City
The Reagan administration implemented the Mexico City Policy, which prohibited foreign organizations that receive family planning assistance from the United States from providing abortion information, referrals, or services in the rest of the world. Since then, it has been overturned by Democratic presidents and later restored by Republicans.
When President Donald Trump reinstated the policy, he also expanded it by applying the restrictions to almost all global healthcare. Trump’s hard-line stance on abortion forced organizations that treat HIV, malaria, tuberculosis and other infectious diseases to abide by those precepts or lose their access to funds.
“The Trump administration launched an all-out assault on sexual and reproductive health around the world by buying providers and limiting the services they can offer to women,” said Jonathan Rucks, senior director of policy and advocacy for PAI, an international agency for reproductive health and rights organization.
Trump’s move led to reduced access to abortion care, along with contraception, HIV testing and treatment, and cancer screening in Kenya, Nepal, Nigeria and South Africa, according to a 2019 study.
While Biden has vowed to override the Mexico City Policy, abortion rights advocates are asking Congress to pass the Global HER Act, which would permanently ban the rule.
The Title X program
The Title X program, which was established 50 years ago, helps fill the gaps in access to health care and affordability by providing family planning assistance to clinics that serve low-income and uninsured people in the United States. Specifically, it offers grants to providers who fund services such as contraception, pregnancy tests, and STD screenings, although it has never funded abortion care.
In 2019, the Trump administration prevented program clinics from referring patients to abortion providers or performing abortion procedures with other funds. Consequently, the number of clinics and patients served by the program was drastically reduced. A quarter of Title X subrecipients left the network, including independent clinics and Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood health centers saw 40 percent of all Title X patients before they withdrew from the program, according to the organization.
“It’s not like there is a lot of money available to provide family planning services, and anything that restricts funding and support has the impact of reducing access,” said Alina Salganicoff, senior vice president and director of women’s health policy at Kaiser Family Foundation.
As a result of the massive exodus of providers from the program, the Office of Population Affairs, the federal agency that operates the program, reported that the number of people served by the Title X program in 2019 was 21% lower than in 2018.
Biden is expected to lower the Trump administration rule and “restore federal funding for Planned Parenthood.”
The contraceptive coverage mandate
The contraceptive coverage mandate of the Affordable Care Act required that most private insurance plans cover birth control without copays; the requirement increased access to contraception and made it affordable for millions.
Most women will use birth control at some point, and 86% have used three or more methods before age 40, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a pro-abortion research institute.
However, Trump rolled back the scope of the contraception mandate, allowing any employer with a religious or moral objection to birth control to be exempted from the requirement. Last summer, the Supreme Court upheld the waivers in Little Sisters of the Poor v. Pennsylvania.
“Although all people are entitled to their religious beliefs, those beliefs should never be used to discriminate against other people, even by removing their health insurance coverage. No one should be denied birth control coverage because of where they work or what school they attend, “said Georgeanne Usova, senior legislative advisor for the American Civil Liberties Union.
Biden said he would restore the Obama-era policy, which exempts only places of worship, but provides an adjustment for other opposing employers, allowing their employees and dependents to access contraceptive coverage through their insurance companies. insurance or external administrators.
The Hyde Amendment
For decades, the Hyde Amendment has prohibited federal programs from paying for abortions except in the case of rape or incest or to save a woman’s life. While the amendment originally applied only to Medicaid recipients, most of whom are in communities of color or are categorized as low-income, Congress extended it to apply to federal employees and their dependents, military personnel, the Indian Health Service, Peace Corps volunteers, and Washington, DC residents
“The Hyde Amendment is an attack on low-income families and an attempt to take away the promise of Roe v. Wade. For many, abortion care has been a right in name only and not in practice, because if it cannot be afforded, the legal right is moot, “said Kelsey Ryland, co-director of the All * Above All abortion coverage campaign.
Those covered by Medicaid in 34 states and DC have minimal abortion coverage due to the Hyde Amendment, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. In that case, the cost of an abortion is often a significant financial barrier. On average, the cost of an abortion procedure is approximately $ 500; when almost 40% of Americans don’t have the resources to cover an unexpected expense of $ 400. Meanwhile, 16 states use their own funds to pay for abortions for people insured by Medicaid, including California, Illinois and New Mexico.
Since 1976, the amendment, which is not a permanent statute and does not require a repeal, has been added each year to legislation passed by Congress to fund the federal government. Biden has vowed to end the policy, which he once supported, but would require congressional action to remove it.
“The job we all need to do right now is to make sure we expand access to health care, not find ways to limit it,” said McGill Johnson of Planned Parenthood.