How the Biden-Harris Administration Could Improve Reproductive Health on Day One

In this Nov. 7, 2020, file photo Vice President-elect Kamala Harris holds hands with President-elect Joe Biden and her husband Doug Emhoff as they celebrate in Wilmington, Del. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

By Elle Meyers

November 16, 2020

Advocates hope Title X funding could be restored to nearly 1,000 providers who had to shut down under Trump administration rules.

Reproductive health advocacy groups are expecting President-elect Joe Biden to roll back many of the executive actions President Donald Trump put in place on abortion and women’s health. 

Advocates hope that with Biden in office, some of the damage done to women’s reproductive health issues will be reversed. 

“I think that this is a great victory but we know that we are going to have a lot of work to do because it’s not just about undoing the harm of the last four years, but really making sure that we’re moving the ball forward and advancing health care through really bold changes,” Jacqueline Ayers, vice president of government relations and public policy for the Planned Parenthood Action Fund told The Hill

NARAL Pro-Choice America’s president Ilyse Hogue noted that Biden’s win creates an important opportunity to continue creating a nation that supports the right to thrive for everyone. 

“We see that systemic oppression, misogyny, and racism are unfortunately still alive and well in our nation. We look forward to partnering with the Biden-Harris administration to advance reproductive freedom and policies that affirm everyone’s dignity,” Hogue said in a statement. “And as we face a still-raging pandemic, President-elect Biden will put science, not ideology, in the driver’s seat of public policy.”

Increasing the accessibility in reproductive health could face some roadblocks in Congress, but the largest problem facing advocates is the federal court system. Over the last four years, the Trump administration has appointed conservative judges on the Supreme court and lower courts. 

But advocates expect Biden to begin his work on reproductive health in his first days in office. 

For example, Biden could reverse a Trump administration decision to remove funding from the federal Title X family planning program. The program prioritized the needs of low-income families or uninsured people to provide contraception and basic preventative reproductive health care regardless of money or access to health insurance. 

The Trump administration included a rule in Title X, finalized last year that prevents providers from promoting or performing abortions. The rule appeared to be aimed at Planned Parenthood and was denounced by women’s health organizations and the nonpartisan American Medical Association. 

According to health advocacy groups the rule interfered with the doctor-patient relationship and resulted in 800,000 fewer people getting care through Title X in 2019. 

Title X funds cannot be used to pay for abortion services in most circumstances but conservatives have argued that any funding going towards abortion providers could indirectly support the service. 

As a result of the new rule, dozens of state health organizations said they could not comply and stopped treating patients through Title X which led to a loss of 945 service providers across the country. Initially the Trump administration said that it would find providers to help fill the gap, but it never did. 

Throughout her career Vice President-elect Kamala Harris has also been outspoken about supporting the reproductive rights of women and has urged action on women’s health issues. 

“[Black mothers are] facing a health crisis that is driven in part by implicit bias in our healthcare system. We must take action to address this issue, and we must do it with the sense of urgency it deserves,” Harris said in 2019 as a California Senator. 

Womens’ health advocates are encouraging the Biden administration to begin work on reproductive issues within the first 100 days of his term. 

“It is essential a Biden administration act as expeditiously as possible, on day 1 or within 100 days, to get money flowing back to providers, particularly to jurisdictions that don’t have Title X services right now,” Jessica Marcella, vice president of advocacy and communications for the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health told The Hill


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