ACLU Statement on Biden Presidential Memorandum on Reproductive Health

January 28, 2021 3:45 pm

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WASHINGTON — President Biden issued a presidential memorandum today to reverse two Trump-era policies on reproductive health.

The action reverses the “global gag rule,” which blocks foreign organizations from receiving U.S. health assistance if they provide, refer, or counsel for abortion services. It also orders a review of a Trump era rule that gutted the Title X family planning program, which provides affordable reproductive health care to millions of people with low incomes across the country.

Georgeanne Usova, senior legislative counsel with the ACLU, issued the following statement:

“Today’s actions are an important first step, and a much-needed course correction after four years of an administration that was openly hostile to reproductive freedom, especially the right to abortion. The Trump Title X rule has wreaked havoc on a critical part of this country’s reproductive health infrastructure, one that provides birth control and other preventative care to patients who might not otherwise have access, and we welcome this step toward rebuilding the program.

“But there is much more work to be done. The Biden-Harris administration has an obligation to continue reversing the damage of the Trump years, as well as to expand access to essential reproductive health care for all. The fights ahead are clear, and they are urgent. It is time to end the Hyde Amendment and all discriminatory bans on insurance coverage for abortion, lift the FDA’s medically unnecessary and harmful restrictions on medication abortion, and dismantle Trump-era rules licensing discrimination in health care based on religious beliefs. We urge the new administration to swiftly take further steps to meet these challenges.”

The ACLU brought several cases challenging Trump administration attempts to roll back reproductive freedom, including a challenge to the Title X rule in a 2019 lawsuit, National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association v. Azar. They sued over a rule that allowed health care institutions and workers to refuse care to patients based on religious beliefs, and a third rule aimed at making it more difficult and expensive for the millions of consumers who purchased individual insurance plans on Affordable Care Act marketplaces to retain coverage for abortion. The ACLU also brought litigation challenging an FDA policy requiring patients to needlessly risk COVID-19 exposure to access medication abortion, which the Trump administration petitioned the Supreme Court to reinstate during the pandemic. Litigation in these cases continues, and the Biden Department of Justice will soon need to take action on behalf of the federal government.

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