Dr Natalia Kanem, executive director of the United Nations Population Fund, said the move would greatly help the agency’s work not only in the area of family planning, but in other health services for women. and girls in poor countries.
“We now have the support of a very important Member State,” Dr Kanem said in a telephone interview.
The rule has been riding a philosophical seesaw for decades – in place when a Republican occupies the White House and is overthrown when a Democrat moves in.
Mr Biden also ordered the Department of Health and Human Services to, “as soon as possible, consider suspending, revising or rescinding” the so-called house gag rule – a set of regulations imposed by the Trump administration that federally ban funded family planning clinics by counseling patients about abortion.
The Guttmacher Institute, which tracks access to abortion, wrote last year that the rules
halving the patient capacity of the national family planning network, jeopardizing the care of 1.6 million patients nationwide. The presidential directive virtually guarantees that the health ministry will overturn these rules, although that could take months.
The president’s order will also direct federal agencies to review policies, including state waivers, that discourage participation in Medicaid, the public health insurance program for the poor and disabled. Medicaid enrollments increased dramatically during the pandemic, in part because people who lost their jobs and health insurance turned to them.
The Trump administration has approved waivers in 12 states that would require some Medicaid recipients to work a minimum number of hours per week or risk losing their benefits. Four of those pilots have already been canceled by the courts and the Biden administration has the power to terminate them all, although the Trump administration in its final weeks has taken steps to make that process more difficult.
Another waiver, completed this month in Tennessee, would give that state fixed funding – or a block grant – to cover its Medicaid population while relaxing many rules on how the program is run. This waiver could also be canceled.