Biden Administration Proposes Reversing Ban on Federal Funds for Clinics That Refer Abortions
By Michelle Hackman
WASHINGTON -- The Biden administration took initial steps to
undo a Trump administration policy that stripped federal
family-planning dollars from clinics that refer patients for
abortions, a move that drove Planned Parenthood to withdraw from
The Department of Health and Human Services on Wednesday
proposed a rule that, when finalized, would reverse the policy on
the federal program, known as Title X. The program offers about
$286 million each year to clinics that provide reproductive
healthcare and other women's health screenings, such as Pap smears,
to about four million uninsured Americans a year.
The Trump administration rule, enacted in 2019, called for
clinics that received federal funding to physically separate their
abortion services in a separate building from all other services,
and not to discuss abortions as an option with patients.
The change was one of a series of steps the Trump administration
took to cut funds for abortion providers, a top concern for
religious conservatives, who were a key part of former President
Donald Trump's base and who shaped many aspects of his healthcare
Federal dollars have long been prohibited by law from directly
funding abortions, though advocates who oppose the procedure say
funding to providers like Planned Parenthood, even for other
services, essentially subsidizes them and makes it easier for
Planned Parenthood and other clinics to provide abortions.
Abortion-rights supporters criticized the Trump administration
policy, calling it a "gag rule" because it prevented doctors and
other healthcare professionals from presenting patients with all
available family-planning options.
These critics said that by pushing Planned Parenthood clinics
out of the federal network where uninsured women could receive
family-planning services, the Trump administration also cut off
access for women in many underserved communities where Planned
Parenthood is the only provider offering birth control and other
At the time of the change, Planned Parenthood clinics served
about 40% of the program's overall patients and received about $60
million in annual funding.
"Women should be able to make informed decisions about their
healthcare, including their reproductive healthcare decisions,
without government interference," said Jamille Fields Allsbrook,
director of women's health and rights at the Center for American
Progress, a liberal Washington think tank.
Susan B. Anthony List, a national antiabortion group, criticized
the plan to roll back the rule, saying the Trump administration's
decision was consistent with the statutory language of Title X and
supported by Americans who oppose using taxpayer dollars to fund
"Abortion is not 'family planning' and Biden-Harris Democrats
pursue this extreme, unpopular agenda at their political peril,"
said SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser.
The Trump administration also worked to reshape the
family-planning program to include faith-based clinics that
discourage the use of contraception and advocate abstinence or
"natural" birth-control methods. In 2019, for example, a Christian
organization known as Obria that doesn't offer any forms of
contraception for the first time received a $1.7 million grant from
Women's health advocates had hoped the Biden administration
would move more quickly to undo the Trump administration's rules,
since a formal rule change could take months or longer. But the
slower approach could fortify the administration against lawsuits
saying it violated federal policy-making rules, which brought down
many quickly enacted Trump administration policies.
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
April 14, 2021 14:10 ET (18:10 GMT)
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