CEO Nancy Northup’s Statement on the Inauguration of Joseph R. Biden, Jr. as the 46th President of the United States

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Statement of Nancy Northup, President and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights: 

Today’s inauguration of Joseph R. Biden as the 46th president of the United States presents an urgent opportunity to put human needs and human rights at the center of a new U.S. domestic and foreign policy. It is also a barrier-breaking day, as Vice-President Kamala Harris becomes the first woman, first Black American, and first South Asian American to hold the office.   

The urgency of this moment is abundantly clear. People are suffering and dying from COVID-19, the U.S. economy is in turmoil, and armed insurrectionists bearing racist symbols stormed the U.S. Capitol two weeks ago. The opportunity is now to roll-back the harms of the past four years and move forward on the vision of reproductive rights for all. President Biden ran on a platform that embraced America’s diversity as its greatest strength, promised to address human rights wherever they are under threat, and committed to protect and advance reproductive health, rights, and justice  

We urge President Biden to take quick and decisive action to reverse the Trump administration’s harmful policies and to move forward on this critical agenda. 

Specifically, we call on the new administration to: 

  • Promote the health and well-being of women and girls in U.S. foreign policy: 
    • Rescind the Global Gag Rule: This policy bans federal funding to international healthcare providers if they provide counsel or advocate for abortion access, even when they use a separate funding source to do so.  
    • Restore reporting on sexual and reproductive health and rights in the State Department’s annual country reports on human rights.   
    • Restore funding to United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and rejoin and restore funding to the World Health Organization (WHO). UNFPA is the lead U.N. agency focused on sexual and reproductive health. The WHO coordinates high-impact research and sets global standards on sexual and reproductive health and rights. 
    • Stop wrongly implementing the Helms Amendment while pushing for its Congressional repeal: For nearly 50 years, the Helms Amendment has barred U.S. foreign aid from being used for abortion services “as a method of family planning.” Prior administrations have wrongly treated this as a total ban on abortion care, even cases of rape, incest, or the endangerment of life or health.  
  • Rescind Trump-Era Regulations, including the Domestic Gag Rule, which prohibits clinics receiving Title X family planning funds from referring patients for abortion services, regulations that allow health care workers to deny reproductive health services and information, and regulations that allow employers and universities to deny contraceptive coverage to their employees and students.  
  • Promote reproductive health policies guided by science, not ideology: The FDA should take the same approach to allowing access to medication abortion by telemedicine, in line with its approach to other drugs.  
  • Support policies to end racial disparities in maternal health care by launching an interagency task force on maternal care, promoting expansion of Medicaid coverage to at least one year postpartum, and championing passage of the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act.  

In addition to taking these actions that are within the power of the executive branch, we also call on President Biden to champion legislation to address the abortion access crisis. Since 2011, states have enacted over 500 restrictions on abortion access. These come on top of policies that deny insurance coverage for abortion to those who receive their health insurance from the federal government, including Medicaid.  Restrictions on abortion access and coverage have fallen disproportionately on Black, Indigenous, and people of color, people living on low incomes, and young people. Congress must address the abortion access crisis and long-standing injustice of the Hyde Amendment by passing the Women’s Health Protection Act and the EACH Woman Act. 

As the Biden administration combats the devastating coronavirus pandemic, it must also move forward to advance reproductive rights because the need for access to the full range of reproductive healthcare – including contraception, maternal health care, and abortion care – does not abate in a pandemic.  

The Center for Reproductive Rights looks forward to working with the Biden Administration, the new Congress, our supporters, and the vibrant field of reproductive rights, health and justice advocates to bring about the world we envision where every person has the ability to make decisions about their reproductive life and has equitable access to the full range of reproductive health services.