Biden to reverse anti-abortion rights policies in new executive actions
President Joe Biden is expected to use his executive authority to rescind the Mexico City Policy, also known as the global gag rule, as part of a slew of executive actions on Thursday, according to three people familiar with the White House’s plans. The Mexico City policy prohibits federal dollars from going to non-governmental organizations that provide abortions, advocate to legalize and expand abortion access, or who provide abortion counseling.
This policy, first announced by President Ronald Reagan in 1984, has been regularly enacted by Republican administrations and rescinded by Democratic administrations.
But the Mexico City Policy was expanded under the Trump administration, prohibiting funding for NGOs who, in turn, fund other programs that provide abortions or abortion counseling.
A 2020 report by the Government Accountability Office found in 2017 at least 54 instances when NGOs did not accept U.S. federal aid dollars because they did not want to cease their abortion access advocacy or limit abortion counseling. This resulted in the NGOs foregoing $153 million, according to the report.
Biden is also expected to ask the Department of Health and Human Services to review a similar policy in the United States that prevents money from Title X, a federal program meant to help low-income patients afford reproductive health care, from going to health care centers that provide abortion counseling.
Finally, Biden is expected to disavow or remove the United States’ 2020 endorsement of the Geneva Consensus, which is a nonbinding international declaration signed by countries opposed to abortion. Led by former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the United States was among more than 30 countries, namely Uganda, Hungary, Indonesia, Brazil and Egypt, to join the consensus. The text of the pact is also viewed by critics as being anti-LGBTQ and anti-same sex marriage, as most of the nations involved have not legalized same-sex marriage and several others criminalize and prosecute their LGBTQ citizens.
These executive actions are expected to be part of additional health care related actions on Thursday, the people familiar with the plans said.
While these actions were expected, Biden has not always supported expanding access to abortion. For decades, then-Senator Biden supported the Hyde Amendment, which bans using federal money for abortion services in most cases. But under pressure from progressive groups and fellow Democratic presidential candidates, Biden in June 2019 reversed his stance and said he was now in favor of repealing the Hyde Amendment.
“I can’t justify leaving millions of women without access to the care they need and the ability… to exercise their constitutional protected right,” Biden said at the time.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.