Biden to scrap ban on US funds for abortion counseling, expand healthcare access

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Washington (AFP)

President Joe Biden on Thursday is to dive into a political minefield when he scraps a ban on US funding for abortion counseling provided by international organizations.

The move is part of a broad package of health-related measures by the new Democratic president at a time when the country is reeling from Covid-19 and, as ever, grappling with a healthcare system that leaves millions of people uninsured.

The White House said one executive order will reopen the online health insurance marketplace under so-called Obamacare. The plan gives uninsured people and people who lost insurance during the Covid-19 economic crisis a chance to get coverage.

The government exchange will open on February 15 for a three-month period.

More controversially, the White House said Biden was rescinding what’s known as the Mexico City Policy, which bars US funding for international non-profit organizations that offer abortion counseling or referrals.

The policy is a political ping pong ball that for years Republican presidents have enacted and Democratic presidents withdrawn.

Also on abortion, the White House said Biden was ordering the government to review rules under Donald Trump’s administration that blocked government-funded family planning clinics in the United States from referring women for abortions.