A letter addressed to President Biden and Vice President Harris implores the administration to form a new office for reproductive rights within the White House.
A group of democratic senators have called on the Biden Administration to create an office dedicated to reproductive rights. A letter, first reported to The 19th, was penned by senators Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Cory Booker of New Jersey, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Ed Markey of Massachusetts, Jeff Merkly of Oregon, Tammy Duckworth of Illinois and Richard Bluementhal of Connecticut.
The letter proposes an Office of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Wellbeing that would operate within the White House’s Domestic Policy Council. In their letter, the senators outline how such an office would function and argue in favor of it.
Dedicated to Sexual and Reproductive Health
As written in the letter, this new office would “elevate issues of reproductive justice and ensure a permanent infrastructure to (1) develop a federal strategy for promoting equitable sexual and reproductive health and wellbeing through a human rights, gender and racial equity lens, and (2) better coordinate the actions of the many departments and agencies whose actions in both domestic and foreign policy contexts impact sexual and reproductive health and wellbeing, and the financial and economic welfare, of people in America and around the world.”
The senators propose that this office would work toward the goal of making sexual and reproductive health care easily accessible. This would include all matters related to an individual’s decision to have or not have children. Further, it would ensure that any children they have would be able to live in “safe and sustainable communities.”
The framework proposed for this office acknowledges the variety of external issues related to sexual and reproductive health. The Office of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Wellbeing would be responsible for addressing such issues as they intersect with issues of economic inequalities, race-based discrimination, gender identity, sexual orientation and so on.
Effects of Covid-19 on Reproductive and Sexual Health
In their letter, the senators further explain that, “In the midst of a pandemic that has disproportionately affected women, LGBTQIA+ individuals, people of color, and people with disabilities, and in the wake of an administration that has implemented public policies that harm these communities at every turn, the comprehensive scope of reproductive health care must be an early priority for the Biden administration.”
Biden Taking Action on Sexual and Reproductive Equality
Biden has already made moves in other areas that support access to sexual and reproductive health care. In January, Biden reversed the Mexico City Policy through a presidential memorandum. This policy prohibited the US government from funding foreign nonprofits that supported or provided access to abortions.
Further, Biden has pushed for the Health and Human Services Department to consider removing a Trump administration rule that blocked referrals for abortions through health care providers under the Title X family funding program.
Both support and criticism have come out in regards to Bidens movement towards easy access for reproductive health care. This issue, particularly as it pertains to abortion procedures and medication, are notoriously ignored, underfunded and difficult to safely access.
Holding Biden to His Word
The senators voiced their approval of Biden’s actions so far in their letter. Still, they push the President for further measures about the issue.
“We are deeply appreciative of and encouraged by your administration’s commitment to advancing and securing reproductive rights —including the right to access contraception and abortion — as evidenced by your early executive actions,” the senators wrote in their letter. “We ask now that you build upon these efforts and institutionalize a reproductive justice policy framework, which aims to go beyond securing reproductive rights.”
Biden has openly stated and shown his support in funding and providing access to sexual and reproductive health care thus far. However, this letter calls for a new level of accountability on issues of reproductive health, an area it will be important to push for aggressively during the Biden administration. As of this writing, neither President Biden or Vice President Harris have responded to the letter.