by Fred Lucas
President Joe Biden issued executive actions Thursday to direct U.S. tax dollars to promoting abortion here and abroad, and to expand Obamacare.
The actions not only will mean federal funding for abortions in other countries, but could restore more federal funding to Planned Parenthood.
Biden signed a presidential memorandum rescinding the so-called Mexico City policy, which specifies that federal funds for family planning go only to foreign nongovernmental organizations that agree not to perform or promote abortions as a method of family planning in other countries.
The same memorandum also reversed a 2019 Trump administration rule for Title X, the law that governs federal grants for family planning purposes.
The reversed Trump rule prohibited Title X funds to organizations that make abortion referrals. After that, Planned Parenthood opted not to accept the funds rather than adhere to the restrictions.
“Rolling back this regulation means Planned Parenthood and others in the abortion industry will once again participate in the Title X program,” Melanie Israel, a research associate at The Heritage Foundation, told The Daily Signal.
During the Oval Office signing ceremony, Biden said the order was about “protecting women’s health at home and abroad.”
“It reinstates the changes that were made to Title X and other things, making it harder for women to have access to affordable health care as it relates to their reproductive rights,” Biden said, apparently meaning that his order reinstated the policy in place before President Donald Trump made changes to Title X.
Although Americans are divided on the issue of abortion, Biden’s action goes against big majorities that oppose taxpayer funding for the procedure.
Biden’s decision comes a day after a Knights of Columbus/Marist Poll showed that 58% of Americans—regardless of whether they identify as pro-life or pro-choice—oppose using tax dollars to pay for abortion. Moreover, 77% oppose using U.S. tax dollars to pay for abortions outside the country.
The move was not a surprise, as the policy has ping-ponged between Republican and Democratic administrations.
President Ronald Reagan put the Mexico City policy in place in 1984. President Bill Clinton rescinded it in 1993. In 2001, President George W. Bush reinstated the policy. President Barack Obama overturned it in 2009. Trump reinstated the policy in 2017.
“The American people shouldn’t be forced to bankroll the abortion industry, in America or in foreign countries,” Heritage’s Israel said in a separate statement. “Predictably, among President Biden’s first acts was rescinding the Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance (PLGHA) Policy. Since 1984, it has been enforced by every Republican president and suspended by every Democratic president shortly after being inaugurated.”
Under President Trump, the policy was expanded to apply to billions of Department of State, USAID, and Department of Defense funds and became known as PLGHA. President Biden will also work to roll back Trump administration policies that sought to separate government programs, such as the Title X family planning program and Medicaid, from the abortion industry. The majority of Americans do not want their tax dollars going toward abortions overseas or domestically, and today’s action ignores this bipartisan consensus.
Planned Parenthood Action, the organization’s political action arm, was jubilant on Twitter.
The executive action will direct @HHSgov to immediately take action on the dangerous domestic gag rule — a Trump rule that slashed the Title X network’s patient capacity in half. Learn more: https://t.co/Bpbttdi0o6 pic.twitter.com/ajrd1bW36n
— Planned Parenthood Action (@PPact) January 28, 2021
Also, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Biden signed an executive order to reopen enrollment for the Obamacare marketplace from Feb. 15 through May 15.
Enrollment in Obamacare plans in 2021 initially ended last month, as the typical period for enrollment is November and December for a plan in the next year.
The pandemic caused by the new coronavirus has killed almost 430,000 Americans.
Biden’s same order directed the Department of Health and Human Services to review all actions taken by the Trump administration that undermined or scaled back the Affordable Care Act of 2010, popularly known as Obamacare, or made it more difficult to enroll in Obamacare or Medicaid and any policy that would reduce coverage under either program.
“As we continue to battle COVID-19, it’s even more critical that Americans have meaningful access to health care,” Biden said, adding: “The first one I’m going to be signing here is extending Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act, and of all times we need to reinstate access to, affordability of, and extent of access to Medicaid is now in the middle of this COVID crisis.”
Biden campaigned on expanding Obamacare, chiefly during Democrats’ presidential primary season, when some of his opponents backed a “Medicare for All,” plan, which functionally would be a government-controlled, single-payer system.
Biden responded that he wanted to build on the existing Obamacare system.
The new president has signed a raft of executive actions during his first week in office, and seemed to respond Thursday to charges that he is governing by fiat.
“I’m not initiating any new law, any new aspect of the law,” Biden said. “This is going back to what the situation was prior to the [previous] president’s executive orders.”
– – –
Fred Lucas is chief national affairs correspondent for The Daily Signal and co-host of “The Right Side of History” podcast. Lucas is also the author of “Abuse of Power: Inside The Three-Year Campaign to Impeach Donald Trump.” Send an email to Fred.
Photo “Joe Biden” by Gage Skidmore. CC BY-SA 2.0. Background Photo “Planned Parenthood Building” by Fibonacci Blue. CC BY 2.0.