The order related to abortion will rescind the Mexico City Policy, a government policy that denies federal funding for non-governmental organizations that provide abortion counseling, advocate for decriminalization, or expand services. It is unofficially known as the "global gag rule." The policy, which was first implemented in 1985 under the Ronald Reagan administration, was rescinded by former President Barack Obama in 2009 before being reinstated by Donald Trump when he entered office in 2017.
The policy is generally rescinded or reinstated depending on whether a Democrat or Republican enters the White House. While supporters of the policy believe it helps to reduce abortions globally, a 2020 study reveals that abortions have risen by an average of 40 percent in the countries typically influenced by the policy. The study suggested that the lack of funding leads to a reduction in access to contraception, creating more unwanted pregnancies.
Biden will also advise federal agencies to conduct a review of a Trump administration program that cut Title X federal funds for family planning and reproductive health services for low-income patients. Organizations that provided or promoted access to abortions would not receive access to those funds.
The order related to the Affordable Care Act would open a special enrollment period between February 15 and May 15 that allows Americans who have lost their employer-based health insurance due to the pandemic to sign up for coverage through HealthCare.gov. Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, the Trump administration did not advertise the option to apply for the Affordable Care Act for those who have lost their jobs and the insurance that came with it, and refused to open enrollment at HealthCare.gov for anyone who wanted access.
"For President Biden, this is personal. As we continue to battle COVID-19, it is even more critical that Americans have meaningful access to affordable care," read a news release on the executive order.
Biden will also call on federal agencies to reverse course related to a Supreme Court challenge on the legality of work requirements for Medicaid recipients. While 12 states were granted waivers to begin the work requirements -- with others not granted or blocked in the lower courts -- the president will request a reconsideration of the rules. Agencies will also review policies undermining protections for those with preexisting conditions, including those that are coronavirus-related.