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UNITED STATES: Biden signs decrees on access to abortion

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The President of the United States Joe Biden signed, Thursday, January 28, several decrees including two on health coverage and access to abortion. Donald Trump’s government had banned organizations offering gynecological services from offering abortions to their patients, on pain of losing their funding. By these decrees, the new boss of the Oval Office declares to restore the law.

On Thursday, Joe Biden signed two decrees on health coverage and access to abortion.“The best way to describe what I do is to repair the damage done by Trump,” said Biden, adding: “There is nothing new that we are doing here, other than restoring the health reform law and restoring health coverage as it was before Trump became president. The changes made by Orders in Council have made it more inaccessible, more expensive and more difficult for people to qualify for any of these systems.” 

Decisions taken on the eve of the annual mobilization of anti-abortion. Abortion is legal in the United States since 1973, but still strongly divides the American population, with a still very strong opposition especially in religious circles. So, as every year around the anniversary date of this decision, called Roe v. Wade, the opponents of abortion have planned to be heard this Friday. But because of the coronavirus pandemic, their manifestation will be made virtually unlike that of last year in which Donald Trump even participated.

The Trump administration had established at the national level the Mexico City” rule which requires family planning centres to physically distinguish gynecological consultations from those related to abortion, under penalty of losing their federal funds. Thus, in his decree, Joe Biden addresses this subject, but with more caution. According to a statement from the White House, he will order the Ministry of Health to take immediate action to consider whether to reverse these regulations. Nor does it say anything about the “Hyde Amendment” which prohibits the use of federal funds to reimburse most abortions.

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Women’s right to abort associations welcome these measures but remain vigilant for the future. “We are delighted that President Biden is revoking the cruel and neo-colonial Mexico City policy,” said Serra Sippel, President of the Center for Health and Gender Equity (Change). It believes, however, that its effects will not go away unless Biden gives clear instructions to staff in embassies and federal agencies.

These announcements are, according to President of the Guttmacher Institute Herminia Palacio, “extremely important first steps in the right direction, but the administration must go further.” According to this, the majority of the 850,000 abortions performed each year in the United States involve women of colour and modest backgrounds. Thus, facilitating access to and reimbursement of abortions is fully part of the fight against inequalities, which Joe Biden has made one of his priorities.

       

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