On Monday, President Joe Biden’s administration “revoked a Trump-era rule that became a flash point in the abortion wars by forbidding clinics that receive federal family planning aid from advising people about ending their pregnancies,” as The Washington Post reported. When the reversal of Trump’s rule takes effect on November 8, health centers that deal with family planning will once again be permitted to receive federal funds from the program known as Title X, no matter whether patients at the centers are referred for abortions. As Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra put it, the Biden administration is “making clear that access to quality family planning care includes accurate information and referrals — based on a patient’s needs and direction.”
The Trump administration’s original policy change had sweeping effects. Nearly 1,000 clinics from around the country exited the Title X program in 2019, and from 2018 to 2020, the number of individuals cared for under grants tied to the federal program in question plummeted by a whopping 2.4 million. Reporting from federal authorities “estimates that nearly two-thirds of that drop was because of the Trump administration’s restrictions,” according to The Washington Post. Court fights over the Trump administration’s policy stretched out extensively — as recently as February of last year, a federal appeals court ruled in favor of leaving the Trump administration’s policies in place, however.
The clinics who exited the Title X program didn’t necessarily shutter their doors. Instead, they chose to continue — to the best of their abilities — providing their needed services to local communities, even if the federal government decided to withdraw their financial support of their efforts.
The Biden administration’s show of support for these health providers — which has been months in the making, with an initial, formal proposal of the rule reversal way back in April by Health and Human Services — comes as they face serious affronts from Republican leaders like Texas Governor Greg Abbott. Recently, a law that Abbott signed went into effect that banned nearly all abortions in Texas after some six weeks of pregnancy, and the law has so far been allowed to stand by the U.S. Supreme Court as legal challenges unfold. It places enforcement within the purview of private citizens, who are allowed under the law to sue those suspected of involvement in the procurement of an illegal abortion. Troublingly, Republican leaders elsewhere could expand their push for measures similar to the Texas law, considering the fact that it’s stood (thanks to conservative justices on the U.S. Supreme Court) so far.