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Brief # 92

Health and Gender Policy

Biden and Abortion: What Should America Expect?

By Justin Lee

January 26, 2021

Policy

Former President Trump took strong actions against abortion and reproductive health policies during his presidency. Trump reinstated and strengthened the Mexico City Policy, which implemented funding restrictions to foreign organizations that provided abortion services or counseling. First introduced in the Reagan administration, Trump’s stance lead to the closure of many reproductive health clinics that provided care not just for abortions, but also for HIV care. Trump  also attempted to limit the scope of the contraceptive coverage mandate of the Affordable Care Act, which previously required most insurance plans to cover birth control without copayments. The Supreme Court upheld the exemptions for employers with religious and/or moral objections  to refuse providing birth control benefits for employees in July 2020.

Trump’s actions against abortion followed the pattern of many conservative politicians and presidents before him. President Biden has made it clear his intentions to remove the Mexico City Policy. Should America  also expect Biden to reinstate reproductive health rights, as done by many democratic politicians before him?

Analysis

It is important to note that President Biden is a devout Roman Catholic, and his past stance on abortion rights has been far less progressive than his liberal colleagues. Biden was a strong supporter of the Hyde Amendment, which prohibited federal programs from paying for abortions with the exception of rape or incest. He changed his stance shortly before beginning his 2016 presidential campaign. As polling from the Pew Research Center shows the majority of Catholic adults in the US support some form of legalized abortion policies. Anti-abortion groups and conservative Catholics argue the hypocrisy of a President attending Sunday mass while fighting for abortion rights.

President Biden will likely continue to face criticism and skepticism from both his party and devout Catholics. But America should remain confident that Biden will be an advocate for reproductive health rights. Biden’s executive orders and priorities support his inaugural address indicating he will be a president “for all Americans”. Former President Trump’s actions during his presidency have led to reduced abortion care, contraception services, HIV testing, HIV treatment, and cancer screening; limiting reproductive health access for men and women in the US and abroad. President Biden has the opportunity to restore these critical services and help re-establish America as a proponent not just for reproductive health rights, but for human rights.

Learn More

Helpful links

NBC: Biden to Roll Back Abortion

NBC: Supreme Court Allows Plan for Limiting Contraceptive Coverage

NPR: President Biden and Being Catholic

Pew Research Center: Catholics and Abortion

NPR: Planned Parenthood Endorses Biden

Reuters: Biden Ending Mexico City Policy

Engagement Resources

The Planned Parenthood organization advocates for reproductive health care, as well as education for safe sex, gender identity, sexual consent and assault, and other related services. To learn more, use the link below:

Planned Parenthood Website

Trust for America’s Health is a public health policy and research organization that advocates for a nation that values the health and well-being of Americans. Their organization has valuable information regarding health policies and issues on a federal and state level, and also actively publishes reports regarding public health on their website. To find more information or to get involved, use the link below:

TFAH Website

The American Public Health Association is an organization aimed to Improve the health of the public and achieve equity in health status. As the main publishers for the American Journal of Public Health and The Nation’s Health newspapers, APHA educates the public on public health, policy statements, and advocacy for public health. To volunteer or become a member, use the link below:

APHA Website

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