Women’s reproductive groups were elated when President-elect Biden came out in support of policies to ease abortion access for women, and are adamant to making sure he and Vice President-elect Harris follow through with the promises.
Some of the more sweeping executive actions include:
-Repealing the Trump administration’s Title X rule, which bars health clinics that receive federal family planning funds from referring patients for abortions.
-Making sure that guidance specifying that states cannot refuse Medicaid funding for Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers.
-Removing the Mexico City policy that blocks foreign aid to any organization abroad that provides or promotes abortions.
In an effort to further his agenda, Biden has picked California Attorney General Xavier Becerra to head the Department of Health and Human Services. Becerra has been the chief legal adversary to Trump’s administration in regards to all healthcare rights.
“It would be hard to find anyone who has worked so hard to undo Trump’s agenda on health,” said Larry Levitt, the executive vice president for health policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation. “Now he’ll have an opportunity to do it proactively.”
While advocates are applauding the Becerra appointment, there is voiced concern that Biden’s past with the issue makes his integrity questionable. Biden has a long history of opposing women’s productive rights legislation.
Biden has consistently opposed late-term and so-called partial birth abortions, lamenting that one ban enacted in the 1990s did not go far enough.
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He has historically supported Republicans prohibitions on funding for groups that promote abortions overseas, and backed legislation that would have allowed states to overturn Roe v. Wade.
Biden also fought without success to give religious groups’ exemptions from the Affordable Care Act’s mandate for birth control coverage.
But during congressional hearings to the Hyde Amendment, which bans federal funds from being used by programs like Medicaid for abortion in most cases, Biden switched from his decades long support of this measure, to opposing it, assuring his stand in the primaries.
Becerra’s appointment has calmed the questions that pro-abortion rights advocates have expressed because his commitment to the issue has been unquestionably supportive. This is in line with his choice of Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.
A transition spokesperson confirmed that senior staff on the team are “regularly engaging with several reproductive rights groups through listening sessions and other meetings” and pledged that “women’s issues will be at the forefront of policy efforts in the Biden-Harris administration.”