Biden administration rolls back Trump-era rule restricting federal funds to clinics for abortion services

The Biden administration officially rescinded a Trump-era rule on Monday that prohibited reproductive health clinics that provide abortion referrals and services from receiving federal funds.

The new rule, which comes into effect on Nov. 8, paves the way for big providers like Planned Parenthood to join Title X, the federal family planning program created almost 50 years ago to fill gaps in family planning. access to health care and affordability, especially for those living in rural or otherwise underserved areas.

“This rule is a step forward for family planning care as it aims to strengthen and restore our country’s Title X program,” Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a statement on Monday. “Our country’s family planning clinics play a vital role in delivering health care, and now more than ever, we are making it clear that access to quality family planning care includes information and referrals. precise, based on the needs and orientation of the patient. “

Clinics that receive Title X funds also offer breast and cervical cancer screenings and tests for sexually transmitted infections to more than 190 million low-income and uninsured people, said Becerra.

In a speech in May 2018, then-President Donald Trump presented his administration’s impending rule change as a “historic announcement” that fulfilled a campaign promise.

“For decades, US taxpayers have been wrongly forced to subsidize the abortion industry through Federal Title X funding,” he said at the time.

The restriction came into effect in 2019.

Executives of reproductive health care providers said they were faced with a choice between continuing to offer abortion referrals or services – and losing millions of dollars in annual federal funds – or complying.

In 2019, Planned Parenthood announced it was withdrawing from Title X rather than complying with it, calling it an “unethical gag rule.” The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, among other public health associations, also opposed the Trump-era restriction.

The Biden administration is challenging an abortion law in Texas that sparked protests over the weekend. The Justice Department has asked a federal judge to declare invalid the law, which prohibits abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy, before many women know they are pregnant.

The Supreme Court, with a Conservative 6-3 majority, is also considering challenging a Mississippi abortion law that could produce the most important ruling on the issue in decades.

President Joe Biden issued a memorandum in January ordering the HHS to review rules that place “undue restrictions” on women’s access to health care. The HHS first released a proposed rule reversing the Trump-era restriction on Title X funds in April.

Becerra, citing her department’s 2020 annual family planning report, also said the Title X program had seen a “significant drop in the number of clients served in 2020.”

The report estimates that there was a decline of 2.4 million family planning patients from 2018 to 2020, of which 1.5 million can be attributed to the Trump rule change.

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