From announcing the Muslim ban to seating three conservative justices on the Supreme Court, Donald Trump was catastrophic for human rights.
But attacks on reproductive rights are not unique to the Trump administration. Conservatives and even liberals have long deprioritized abortion and contraceptive care by upholding harmful policies like the Hyde Amendment, which bans federal funding for abortion care, and restrictions on minors’ access to abortion.
It will take a progressive Congress and court reform to undo many of the harms of the last four years, including the erosion of reproductive health-care access for millions who rely on abortion and contraceptive care.
But here are three steps the Biden administration can take on Day One to roll back Trump’s attacks on reproductive rights. While these actions won’t immediately undo the damages, they would get the Biden administration off on the right start.
Rescind the domestic “gag rule”
Trump’s Department of Health and Human Services issued rules blocking federal family planning dollars from going to organizations that provide abortions. Known as the domestic “gag rule,” the regulations had a devastating impact on access to health care and cut federal family planning capacity almost in half.
On day one, President-elect Joe Biden can issue an executive order directing the agency to undo these rules and begin the process of restoring funding—and reproductive health care—to millions who rely on it.
Rescind the global “gag rule”
Trump also expanded the global “gag rule,” which restricts U.S. foreign assistance from going to organizations that provide or even discuss abortion care. Ronald Reagan first instituted the global gag rule in 1984. Trump expanded the restrictions to apply to all U.S. foreign aid, not just family planning funds—denying assistance to organizations providing care for HIV/AIDS, nutrition, and malaria. The Biden-Harris administration could begin to reverse these restrictions immediately.
Rescind Trump’s Affordable Care Act rollbacks
Trump and his Republican colleagues have been focused on gutting health-care reform since the moment he took office. On Tuesday, the Supreme Court will hear arguments in the latest legal effort to kill off the ACA. But the Court likely won’t rule on the challenge until next summer, giving the Biden-Harris administration time to tackle Trump’s rules aimed at limiting birth control access and gender-affirming care under the ACA.
And if the runoff races in Georgia lead to Democrats gaining control of the Senate, a new Congress could not only revive any damage the Supreme Court does to the ACA, but also expand on the law’s historic protections.
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