Biden Admin Reverses Policy Banning Federally-Funded Family Planning Clinics From Making Abortion Referrals

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On Monday, the Biden administration changed a previous policy that, among other items, didn’t allow certain federally-funded family planning clinics to receive money from the government if they were involved in referring people to abortions. 

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) made an announcement describing the move that will reportedly put the Title X program back to how it was used prior to changes being implemented in 2019. The new development will go into effect on November 8th of this year.

In a statement from HHS, the department said it had issued a rule that “realigns the nation’s family planning program with nationally recognized standards of care, reinforces the program’s emphasis on quality, equity, and dignity for all individuals who seek Title X services, and modernizes the more than 50-year old program to better reflect the current healthcare system.”

It added, “This new rule replaces the 2019 Title X Rule, reversing the Trump administration’s changes to the program.”

As reported by The Hill, “Title X has always prohibited direct funding from going to abortion care. But with the Trump administration’s regulation, these clinics also could not refer patients for abortions, in what critics and reproductive rights groups called a ‘gag rule.’”

The rule stated: 

The effect of this 2021 final rule is to revoke the requirements of the 2019 regulations, including removing restrictions on nondirective options counseling and referrals for abortion services and eliminating requirements for strict physical and financial separation between abortion-related activities and Title X project activities, thereby reversing the negative public health consequences of the 2019 regulations. 

“This rule is a step forward for family planning care as it aims to strengthen and restore our nation’s Title X program,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. “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 move comes after Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) stated that he would not support a reconciliation bill that did not include the Hyde Amendment, which prevents federal taxpayer dollars from going to most abortions. 

As The Daily Wire reported, Manchin explained his position to National Review:

National Review: Senator, you’ve been very firm on keeping the Hyde amendment on the appropriations bills. Are you concerned about that issue at all in reconciliation—

Manchin: Certainly—

NR: —with this new Medicaid program?

Manchin: Yeah, we’re not taking the Hyde amendment off. Hyde’s going to be on.

National Review: In the new Medicaid program?

Manchin: It has to be. It has to be. That’s dead on arrival if that’s gone.

Many in the nation are watching upcoming Supreme Court decisions, specifically one regarding an abortion case involving a pro-life law out of Mississippi.

As The Daily Wire reported, the Supreme Court set the date of December 1st to hear the Mississippi case. Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization has to do with a law banning most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. Based on previous rulings from the court, states are required to allow pre-viability abortions, which occur before a fetus can survive on its own outside the womb — typically around 20 to 24 weeks of pregnancy.

When it agreed to hear the case in May, the high court granted review of the question, “Whether all pre-viability prohibitions on elective abortions are unconstitutional,” meaning that if the court sides with Mississippi, states would potentially be allowed to decide their own abortion laws. States could once again place their own restrictions on abortions — possibly even up to the point of conception.

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