Biden Delivers Big Win With Reversal Of Trump Health Care Policy


Biden’s administration is gearing up to formally roll back a Trump-era policy that, if allowed to be enforced, would have permitted health care workers to decline to provide care that somehow contradicts their religious convictions. The rule — as could be expected — threatened to majorly impede access to sexual and reproductive health care for women, LGBTQ people, and others, many of whom have consistently been targeted by Republican policy moves. A final version of the formal proposed update to the relevant federal rules isn’t available yet, although a spokesperson for the Department of Health and Human Services confirmed that the department “has made clear through the unified regulatory agenda that we are in the rulemaking process.” Proposed changes are apparently under consideration at the White House Office of Management and Budget.

Abortion restrictions have been a particularly prominent area of recent contention. After Texas Republicans scored some success with getting harsh abortion limits enacted and left in force — for now — by federal courts, GOP officials in states including Oklahoma and Florida have undertaken related moves. A new Oklahoma law makes performing most abortions a felony offense, while a new piece of Florida legislation further limits the timeframe in which abortions can be legally performed there, cutting most abortions off at 15 weeks. The Florida law makes no exceptions for situations involving rape, incest, or human trafficking, although it does include exceptions for instances where performing an abortion could safe the life of or avert serious injury to the pregnant person.

The Trump administration’s rule allowing for health care workers to refuse to conduct medical procedures that ostensibly threaten their claimed religious beliefs was never enforced after getting blocked in court, but provisions apparently remain on the books. Jacqueline Ayers, who serves as the senior vice president of policy, organizing and campaigns at Planned Parenthood, remarked as follows:

‘As state politicians continue to strip people of their sexual and reproductive rights and freedoms, it’s imperative that the Biden-Harris administration revoke this discriminatory policy and help ensure people can access the health care and information they need when they need it… We look forward to seeing the details of the new rule and are excited about this step forward.’

The Right’s consistent threats to access to basic medical care spotlight the wide-reaching threats that could come with Republicans regaining power in the midterm elections and next presidential race. Control of both houses of Congress will be at stake this year, and every vote counts. The opposition within certain corners of the GOP to health care threatens people’s safety — as the pandemic has consistently proven.