The Biden administration on Monday said it is reversing a Trump-era policy barring federally funded health care providers from making abortion referrals, CNN reports.
The Trump administration in 2019 issued a rule restricting federal funding under Title X to providers who make abortion referrals. The Biden administration said it will reverse the policy in November.
"This rule is a step forward for family planning care as it aims to strengthen and restore our nation's Title X program," HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a statement, referring to the decades-old family planning program.
"Our nation's family planning clinics play a critical role in delivering health care, and today more than ever, we are making clear that access to quality family planning care includes accurate information and referrals -- based on a patient's needs and direction," Becerra said.
Will Planned Parenthood return?
The move paves the way for providers like Planned parenthood to rejoin Title X and receive federal funding.
Providers like Planned Parenthood faced the difficult choice to cut off abortion services or referrals or lose federal funding.
Planned Parenthood withdrew from Title X, calling the new rule an “unethical gag rule.”
The rule was also opposed by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and other medical groups.
President Joe Biden in January directed HHS to review all rules that impose “undue restrictions” on women’s health care access.
Becerra earlier this year said that the Title X program experienced a “significant decline in the number of clients served in 2020.”
An HHS report estimated that the number of family planning patients declined by 2.4 million in 2020, 1.5 million of which were attributed to the Trump rule.
Biden aims to defend abortion rights:
The move comes as the Biden administration pushes to protect abortion rights from Republican attacks across the country.
The DOJ last week accused Texas of a “brazen” attempt to circumvent abortion protections by enacting a near-total abortion ban enforced by citizens to evade judicial review.
"S.B. 8’s novel enforcement scheme is calculated to accomplish what no state should be able to do in our federal system: deter, suppress, and render moot rights guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States," the DOJ said.
"The State does not dispute that S.B. 8 has virtually eliminated previability abortions after six weeks of pregnancy in the State. Moreover, the approach Texas has taken need not be confined to the abortion context. If this mechanism works here, it would serve as a blueprint for the suppression of nearly any other constitutional right recognized by the Supreme Court but resented by a state government."