President Biden reverses ban on abortion referrals by family planning clinics

On Monday, the Biden administration reversed a Trump-era ban on abortion referrals by family planning clinics. The reversal, which will take effect November 8, comes as political and legal tensions grow following the more restrictive abortion measures making moves through conservative states. 

The change, according to the Department of Health and Human Services, will revert the federal family planning program to its practice under Obama. During his presidency, those federally funded clinics were allowed to refer abortion-seeking women to a provider. The program, known as Title X is taxpayer funded, making more than $250 million available per year to clinics with the intention of providing birth control and other health services to “low-income” women.

Title X family planning clinics served nearly 4 million in 2018, but HHS claims the number dropped by about 40 percent after Trumps restriction. HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said the goal of the reversal is to “strengthen and restore” services.

During Trump’s presidency, clinics under the Title X program were restricted from referring patients to abortion clinics except in cases of rape, incest, or medical emergency. This ban prompted Planned Parenthood, and more than one-quarter of the clinics overall, to leave the program rather than comply with the rule.

While Planned parenthood and other similar groups considered the ban to interfere with the doctor-patient relationship, pro-life groups have maintained the position that there should be a complete separation between federal funds and organizations involved in performing or facilitating abortions.

Now that the ban has been reversed, however, it will be up to each Planned Parenthood affiliate to decide whether they rejoin the Title X program, said Planned Parenthood president Alexis McGill Johnson. The move has elicited polar opposite responses from pro-choice and pro-life advocates.

“Given the attacks on abortion in Texas and across the country, it’s more important than ever that patients can access their choice of birth control and other health care through Title X,” said McGill Johnson. But Carol Tobias, the president of National Right to Life, had a different take: “The vast majority of Americans believe that using taxpayer funds to pay for abortion is wrong,” she said in a statement.

The Biden administration also has plans to rescind the “Mexico City policy,” which blocks U.S. funding for nongovernmental global organizations that provide or promote abortion as a form of family planning.




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