In response to the announcement that the Biden-Harris administration will sign a series of executive orders to reopen Afforable Care Act (ACA) marketplaces, lower barriers to Medicaid, direct the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to consider action to rescind Title X regulations, and rescind the harmful Mexico City rule imposing abortion restrictions on foreign aid, Dr. Jamila Taylor, director of health care reform and senior fellow at The Century Foundation released the following statement:

These executive orders are welcome news for the women who have disproportionately shouldered the health risks and economic shocks of this pandemic. Women of color have been hit especially hard by job losses that threaten their access to health insurance. For the women who are still working, many perform essential, but low-paying, work that threatens their health and the health of their loved ones. Restrictions on access to family planning have only hardened the blow during a time of great uncertainty for millions of women and families. Making health insurance and reproductive health care more accessible and affordable is a long overdue step to confronting the pandemic’s spread in the United States and ensuring health equity.

Rescinding harmful abortion-related restrictions on U.S. foreign aid acknowledges that we cannot adequately respond to this global health crisis by cutting off critical care to women around the world. I applaud the Biden-Harris administration for taking the important step to rescind the Mexico City policy. Still, more must be done to improve and expand access to abortion care. We cannot make measurable progress on closing health care gaps—whether exacerbated by the pandemic, economic hardship, or other structural inequities—without also eliminating both the Helms and the Hyde Amendments. I look forward to seeing President Biden eliminate these restrictions in his annual budget proposal and work with Congress to repeal them.

The Helms Amendment is a statutory restriction impacting access to abortion under U.S. foreign aid for women overseas, while the Hyde Amendment restricts abortion coverage for women here in the U.S. who have insurance through Medicaid.

You can read more of Dr. Taylor’s research on the impact of abortion restrictions and how Medicaid can play a role in addressing maternal mortality. And find more information on TCF’s 2021 health care policy priorities.

Header photo: U.S. President Joe Biden signs executive actions in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC. Souece: Doug Mills-Pools/Getty Images