Reproductive health and “the right to choose” has been under “relentless and extreme attack” for the last four years, the Biden Administration asserted in a statement released today. Acknowledging the 48th anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade, President Joe Biden is not wasting any time as he seeks to undo many of the anti-abortion policies his predecessor enacted.
“The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to codifying Roe v. Wade and appointing judges that respect foundational precedents like Roe,” the statement reads.
While codifying Roe v. Wade will likely be an uphill battle that would need to involve Congress, there is one policy Biden has quick access to now that he’s been sworn into office. That is the Mexico City Policy, which prohibits the U.S. from providing family planning assistance to foreign NGOs if those organizations “perform or actively promote abortion as a method of family planning.” This policy has been reinstated and rescinded ad nauseam since President Reagan first introduced it, depending on who sits in the office of the President.
President Trump had not only reinstated the Mexico City Policy while he was in office, but he also expanded it. Critics of the move point to the fact that the Trump administration’s hard stance on abortion funding affected organizations in Kenya, Nepal, Nigeria, and South Africa. It also reduced access to contraception, HIV testing, HIV treatment, and cancer screening, according to a 2019 study.
However, U.S. funding for family planning is likely to reappear on the world stage “in the coming days” according to White House advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci. Speaking at an executive board meeting of the World Organization on Thursday, January 21, 2021, Fauci said it will be the Administration’s “policy to support women’s and girls’ sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights in the United States, as well as globally.”
A bigger concern pro-life leaders have is with the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits federal funding for abortions and affects U.S. citizens. The Biden-Harris administration has indicated they would also like to reverse this amendment, which would require an act of Congress. If the Hyde Amendment were repealed it would effectively expand family planning to include abortion.
In the statement released Friday, the Biden-Harris administration writes that it seeks to “eliminate maternal and infant health disparities, increase access to contraception, and support families economically so that all parents can raise their families with dignity.”
Biden Faces Pushback For Pro-Choice Policies From Catholic Community
Some Catholic leaders have not been shy about telling Biden he is outside the official teaching of the church when it comes to abortion. In 2019, a priest in Florence, South Carolina, actually denied Biden the sacrament of Communion due to his stance on abortion.
At the very first press briefing hosted by the new presidential administration, Biden’s press secretary Jen Psaki was pressed by Catholic news outlet EWTN about Biden’s plans to reverse the Mexico City Policy and the Hyde Amendment.
Psaki refrained from giving a straightforward answer on the Hyde Amendment. “I will just take the opportunity to remind all of you that he is a devout Catholic and somebody who attends church regularly. He started his day attending church with his family this morning,” she said. “But I don’t have anything more for you on that.”
Pope Francis, at least, seems to have extended his blessing to Biden through an inauguration day prayer. The Pope prayed that God “guide your efforts to foster understanding, reconciliation and peace within the United States and among the nations of the world in order to advance the universal common good.”