The Biden administration on Monday handed the pro-choice community a major victory by reversing a Trump-era policy that prevents certain federal funds from going to groups such as Planned Parenthood that promote or perform abortions.
The Trump administration’s policy was hailed by pro-lifers and applied to Title X, a federal family-planning program for low-income patients. The Trump rule prevented Title X money from going to family-planning clinics that performed, promoted, referred for, or supported “abortion as a method of family planning,” according to the text of the rule. It also required recipients to financially and physically separate their abortion services from their non-abortion services. Opponents called it the “gag rule,” while supporters dubbed it the “protect life rule.”
“This new rule replaces the 2019 Title X Rule, reversing the Trump administration’s changes to the program,” HHS said.
HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra called it a “step forward for family planning care.”
“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,” Becerra said.
Planned Parenthood chose not to follow the Trump-era rule, thereby losing about $60 million annually in funding.
On Monday, Planned Parenthood called the new Biden rule a “huge victory.”
“We thank the Biden-Harris administration for swiftly ending the harmful policy and prioritizing access to sexual and reproductive health care,” said Alexis McGill Johnson, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood.
The federal funding of abortion is technically illegal under federal law, but pro-life groups said the Trump-era rule was needed to stop indirect funding of abortion.
“The fact that Planned Parenthood’s facilities and physicians providing both family planning (birth control) and abortion services are housed in the same buildings,” Live Action said in 2019, “means that taxpayer funds received by Planned Parenthood go to support the business of Planned Parenthood, which includes more than 320,000 abortions annually. This is a concept known as fungibility.
“For abortion businesses like Planned Parenthood to claim that no ‘commingling’ of funds or services can be proven is ridiculous, for this reason,” Live Action said. “And, as a director for Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast admitted in an undercover Center for Medical Progress video, shuffling dollars and numbers around to make everything look legitimate and separate on paper is ‘all just a matter of line items.’”
The new rule becomes effective Nov. 8.
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Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.