WASHINGTON – The Biden administration on Monday rescinded a controversial policy established under President Donald J. Trump that prohibited organizations that provide abortion referrals from receiving federal money for family planning.
The new rule, due to go into effect Nov. 8, deals with what’s known as the Title X family planning program, which was established in 1970 and subsidizes birth control, breast cancer screenings and breast cancer screenings. cervix and related preventive care for millions of mainly weak people. -income patients.
“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 – depending on the needs and orientation of the patient, ”Xavier Becerra, the secretary of Health and Social Services, said in a statement.
President Biden signaled shortly after taking office that he intended to repeal the Trump-era rule, writing in a memorandum calling for action on women’s health issues he put “women’s health at risk by making it more difficult for women to receive full medical information.”
The 2019 rule aggressively targeted organizations that offer abortions, including Planned Parenthood, and was a top priority for social conservatives during Mr. Trump’s tenure as president. Regulations surrounding Title X already prohibited direct federal funding for abortion, but organizations such as Planned Parenthood have relied on Title X money to subsidize other women’s health services, such as the distribution of contraceptives and testing for pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.
The rule allowed clinics that received federal funds to offer lists of primary care providers, including those who provide antenatal care, but they could not identify those who performed abortions. It also required a “physical and financial separation” between family planning and abortion services in places that offered both.
As a result of the Trump rule, Planned Parenthood, which had received around $ 60 million a year under the Title X program, withdrew rather than comply with it. Prior to 2019, Planned Parenthood health centers served about 40 percent of the four million people who used the Title X program each year, the organization said on Monday.
Alexis McGill Johnson, president and CEO of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, called the new rule “a major victory for patients, access to sexual and reproductive health care and health equity.
“Title X is an essential part of our social safety net which can and should ensure that low-income people can access essential health care without forcing providers to refuse referrals for all the options available to them. “she said in a statement. On Monday. Still, Ms. McGill Johnson criticized one feature of the new rule, which would allow “opposing people and beneficiaries” not to counsel or refer patients for abortions in the program.
More than 20 states have sued the Trump administration in hopes of overturning the rule, including California, whose lawsuit was led by Mr. Becerra, the state attorney at the time.
In the spring of 2019, as the proposed rule rebounded in court, the Trump administration announced it would donate millions of Title X funds to an anti-abortion nonprofit funded by allies of the Catholic Church. , the Obria group. Critics have touted the move as a way to fund medical clinics that perform abortions.
Announcing the policy reversal on Monday, the Biden administration cited last year’s annual family planning report, which showed a sharp drop in the number of clients served by the Title X program. The report estimated that about two-thirds of the decrease in the number of family planning patients between 2018 and 2020 could be attributed to the Trump rule.
Six states currently have no Title X services, and seven more have “limited Title X capacity,” the Department of Health and Human Services said.
Assistant Secretary for Health Dr Rachel L. Levine said the new rule “would allow the Title X service network to expand its size and capacity to provide quality family planning services to more clients.” Title X grants typically go to clinics operated by state and local health departments, as well as federally qualified health centers, hospital sites, and other private not-for-profit and community health clinics. .
Monday’s reversal comes as abortion rights debate has resumed on Capitol Hill, after the Supreme Court allowed a Texas law to go into effect banning most abortions after six weeks of pregnancy . As other states seek to enact similar restrictions and the now-conservative-dominated court prepares to take on a case that could overturn the 1973 ruling in Roe v. Wade, Democrats are making the issue a central part of their campaign strategy for next year. midterm elections.