The Biden administration announced Monday that it is reversing a controversial Trump-era rule that prohibited federally funded health care providers from making abortion referrals.
“This rule is a step forward for family planning care as it aims to strengthen and restore our nation’s Title X program,” Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a statement, referring to a decades-old federal 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,” the secretary added.
The new rule is set to go into effect in early November.
The administration’s reversal was first reported by The Washington Post.
After HHS, under then-President Donald Trump, made the prohibition effective in 2019, nearly 1,000 clinics dropped out of the Title X program that had been providing the federal funds, the Post said, citing the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive rights research and policy organization. The newspaper said that the change two years ago also meant that a “half-dozen states no longer had any health centers in the program.”
The changes by President Joe Biden’s HHS come as Democrats look for ways to increase federal support for abortion access as Republican-led states move to restrict access to the procedure through strict legislation. It also comes just as the US Supreme Court begins its new term, in which the majority-conservative court will review a Mississippi law in a case that is a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade and represents the most important abortion dispute in some 30 years.
Established in 1970 under the Nixon administration, Title X had until recently provided more than $250 million in funding to clinics that offer affordable birth control, cancer screening, testing and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases, and other reproductive health care and family planning services.
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