The Biden administration on Monday reversed a ban on abortion referrals by family planning clinics, lifting a Trump-era ban as the political and legal battle over abortion intensified from Texas to the US Supreme Court.
The Department of Health and Human Services said its new regulation would restore the way the federal family planning program was run under the Obama administration, when clinics were able to refer women seeking abortions to a provider.
Groups representing clinics said they hope the Biden administration’s action will lead hundreds of service providers to backtrack in protest of Trump’s policies, helping to stabilize a long-running program that The top of the ideological battle was rocked by the coronavirus pandemic.
Known as Title X, the taxpayer-funded program provides more than $250 million annually to clinics primarily to provide birth control and basic health care services to low-income women. Under former President Donald Trump, clinics were barred from referring patients for abortions, prompting a mass exit by service providers affiliated with Planned Parenthood, as well as several states and other independent organizations Was.
Women’s groups dubbed the Trump policy a “gag rule” and medical organizations called it a violation of the doctor-patient relationship. But religious and social conservatives praised the policy of enforcing a strict separation between family planning services and abortion. Under federal law, clinics could not use federal funds to pay for abortions.
In 2018, family planning clinics served about 3.9 million clients, but HHS estimates that numbers have dropped by about 40% following the Trump policy. The agency said more than 180,000 unintended pregnancies could be caused by this upheaval.
Biden campaigned on a promise to end restrictions on family planning clinics, but abortion was not a central issue in the 2020 presidential race. It could be the one to determine who controls Congress in the 2022 mid-term elections.
US Supreme Court
Restrictive state laws in Texas, Mississippi and elsewhere have prompted a mobilization by abortion rights advocates who fear a conservative-leaning Supreme Court would overturn the 1973 Roe v. Abortion was legalized. Hundreds of abortion-themed protests took place across the country on Saturday, one of which brought thousands of abortion rights supporters to the feet of the court.
The Supreme Court has allowed the Texas law to take effect, but has not decided on the actual legal questions behind that statute, which bans most abortions in the state. The justices will hear arguments on December 1 on the Mississippi law, which bans most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.
The new abortion referral policy for family planning clinics will be effective from November 8.