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Group of Senate Democrats call on Biden to create Office of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Wellbeing


Seven Senate Democrats are asking President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris to establish a White House office devoted to reproductive health that would create a federal policy home positioned to address the issue across the administration.

In a letter sent Tuesday, Democratic Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Cory Booker of New Jersey, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Ed Markey of Massachusetts, Jeff Merkley of Oregon, Tammy Duckworth of Illinois and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut called on the administration to establish an Office of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Wellbeing within the White House’s Domestic Policy Council.

Citing the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, “the comprehensive scope of reproductive health care must be an early priority for the Biden administration,” the senators wrote, asserting that “securing true reproductive justice is beyond the scope of any one existing executive department.”

The 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,” they wrote.

The letter was first reported by the 19th*, a nonprofit newsroom covering the intersection of gender, politics and policy.

CNN has reached out to the White House for comment.

The letter comes as many advocates on both sides of the abortion issue have clamored to weigh in on the Biden administration’s efforts to date protecting reproductive and abortion rights.

Biden signed a presidential memorandum last month reversing the so-called Mexico City Policy, a ban on US government funding for foreign nonprofits that perform or promote abortions, and directing the Health and Human Services Department to immediately move to consider rescinding the Trump administration rule blocking health care providers in the federally funded Title X family planning program from referring patients for abortions.

Some abortion rights supporters have looked for the President to do more to expand abortion access, demanding the repeal of the Hyde Amendment — which bars federal funding from covering abortions, except in cases of rape, incest or when the woman’s life is at risk — and requirements surrounding medication abortion drugs that were recently reinstated by the Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, anti-abortion activists have accused the administration of already having gone too far on the issue, with several GOP senators expressing concerns about Health and Human Services secretary nominee Xavier Becerra’s support for abortion rights.

In their letter Tuesday, the seven Democrats acknowledged Biden’s work on reproductive rights so far while urging him to assess the intertwined issues at play in ensuring reproductive rights.

“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,” they wrote. “We ask now that you build upon these efforts and institutionalize a reproductive justice policy framework, which aims to go beyond securing reproductive rights.”

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