Editor's Note, March 2021

Written by Marian Starkey, Vice President for Communcations | Published: March 15, 2021

I went for a [masked and distanced] walk with a friend at a local nature preserve last weekend, and it wasn’t until we were getting back to our cars that I realized we hadn’t talked about politics once. Instead, we talked about our jobs and our husbands, about the books we’ve recently read and the movies we’ve recently watched, about her children and my dogs. In other words, we had the mental freedom to think of and discuss things other than the words and actions of the man currently residing at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, DC. What a relief.

Knowing that there’s a grownup in the White House is a salve to the stressed souls of Americans across the country. It gives us the brain space to relax and let our president do his job without watching his every move, waiting for the next outrageous tweet or press conference or public temper tantrum. And it allows us to work toward pushing for new policies on and funding for voluntary family planning programs that will help to stabilize population, rather than having to spend all our time fighting against bad policies and funding cuts.

Since taking office, Joe Biden has rescinded the Global Gag Rule, restored funding to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), withdrawn the United States from the anti-choice Geneva Consensus Declaration, and begun the necessary steps to overturn the Title X Domestic Gag Rule. He’s resumed U.S. support for the Paris Climate Agreement and reinstated over 100 U.S. environmental protections. He’s working to make our immigration system rational in terms of the needs of refugees, asylum-seekers, and others who wish to become legal residents of the United States and to find sensible paths to citizenship for the Dreamers who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children.

Despite all these wins, though, we must not return to the complacency that led to the predicament we found ourselves in for the past four years. We must learn to strike a balance between informed citizen and despondent doomscroller[1].

If you are looking for a way to stay engaged with us and our work now that the resistance to the Trump administration is over, there are still important things to be done. We now have a supportive majority in the White House, Senate, and House of Representatives, so we finally have a very good chance of passing the Global Health, Empowerment, and Rights (HER) Act (S.142/H.R.556) to end the Global Gag Rule forever through congressional repeal. Passing the Abortion is Health Care Everywhere Act to repeal the Helms Amendment is a taller order, but a challenge has never stopped us from trying before!

And if you’re interested in putting your efforts toward population activism, we’ve got plenty of opportunities for you to get involved with our staff and other Population Connection members, virtually—see page 12 for more information about that. I hope to see you at one of our upcoming online events!

[1]   One who obsessively scrolls through bad news on their smartphone, even though it makes them feel terrible