Biden Restores Reproductive Rights Policy, Reversing Trump Move


The Biden administration has restored sections on reproductive rights to annual reports released by the State Department on human rights around the world. The sections were removed from such State Department reports beginning in 2018, when Trump was in power. The Washington Post notes how “[at] the time, officials said the decision to remove a section devoted to reproductive rights would avoid using a term they said was seen as loaded.” That supposedly “loaded” term was “reproductive rights” itself, which officials took as essentially synonymous with the obtaining of abortions — which, to be clear, have themselves been determined to be a right in the United States by the Supreme Court.

On Thursday, the Biden administration released an updated version of the State Department human rights report covering last year, now including a reproductive rights component. Previously, a report for 2020 came out that the State Department said it hadn’t had a chance to fix, but changes are now included. The report now features “dedicated sections describing foreign countries’ methods of handling of contraception and abortion, information on maternal mortality, and other issues related to family planning and reproductive health,” according to the Post’s reporting.

State Department spokesperson Ned Price commented as follows:

‘We reaffirm our full commitment to promote and protect the sexual and reproductive health of all individuals, recognizing the essential and transformative role they play in gender equality and women and girls’ empowerment around the world.’

Secretary of State Antony Blinken has also previously noted that “women’s rights — including sexual and reproductive rights ­– are human rights.” In the U.S., Republican activists continue to fight against the expression of those rights, including via a fight that recently reached the Supreme Court over a newly enacted Texas ban on almost all abortions after some six weeks of pregnancy — when most people don’t even know that they’re pregnant.

The law outlining that ban also allows for private citizens to sue those suspected of involvement in the procurement of an illegal abortion, which constitutes the law’s method of enforcement. During recent arguments before the Supreme Court, Texas Solicitor General Judd Stone argued against federal courts being allowed to stop Texas state courts from hearing such cases, insisting that Congressional action would be required to extend the purview of federal courts to the situation. Justice Elena Kagan noted, though, how “the point of a right [like abortion is] that you don’t have to ask Congress.”