President Joe Biden has lifted a ban on federally funded family planning clinics giving abortion referrals.
Monday's action by the Department of Health and Human Services lifts a Trump-era restriction as political and legal battles over abortion grow sharper from Texas to the U.S. Supreme Court. Groups representing the clinics say they hope the rule reversal leads to the return of 1,300 service providers that left the program merely to protest the Trump policy.
The Department of Health and Human Services said it's returning the federal family planning program to the way it ran under the Obama administration when taxpayer-funded clinics were able to refer women seeking abortions to a provider.
Planned Parenthood, the country's largest abortion provider, said on Twitter its health centers look forward to returning. But the group criticized part of the Biden administration rule that allows individual clinicians who object to abortion not to provide referrals. The administration said that's "in accordance with applicable federal law."
Known as Title X, the taxpayer-funded program makes available more than $250 million a year in grants to clinics to provide birth control and basic health care services mainly to low-income women, often from minority communities. Opponents to the program called it a "slush fund" bankrolled by taxpayers to abortion groups.
Former President Trump instituted the rule in 2018, which barred clinics that receive taxpayer dollars to refer women for abortions. Title X family planning clinics served about 3.9 million clients in 2018, but HHS estimates that number fell by nearly 40% after clinics abandoned the people they serve in order to protest the Trump policy.
Biden's reversal goes into effect on Nov. 8.
Pro-life advocates called out the Biden administration for doing away with the rule, arguing that taxpayers should not have to pay for abortions.
"Abortion clinics and those clinics that refer for abortion should never receive taxpayer funding. Polling indicates most Americans agree with this. If abortion advocates want government out of their bedroom, then they should stop taking government money," Abby Johnson, former Planned Parenthood director and founder of And Then There Were None, said in a statement.
"While Title X money should not go to clinics that refer for abortion, Planned Parenthood and their allies are experts at getting around this minor rule and now, thanks to Biden and all those who voted for him, they no longer need to hide it," Johnson continued. "Women deserve better than abortion and they certainly deserve better than going to clinics that see them only as a number to pad their bottom line."
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On Monday, the National Right to Life Committee also criticized the Biden administration for "supplementing the abortion industry through taxpayer funds."
As CBN News has reported, the Biden administration's move comes as Democrats are seeking to reinforce pro-abortion policies in the run-up to a Supreme Court case to determine whether states like Mississippi can ban abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.
With more conservative Supreme Court justices now on the court, pro-life advocates are hopeful that our nation will get a step closer to overturning Roe v. Wade.
The Mississippi case does not directly challenge the legal right to an abortion, but it could lay the groundwork for more restrictions. And if Roe v Wade is ever overturned, abortion would then become a state issue.
The Democrat-led House of Representatives recently passed a bill that would guarantee federal protection to abortions nationwide, overturning countless state pro-life laws that inform mothers, protect women's health, and aim to save the lives of viable preborn babies. The legislation will face an uphill battle in the equally divided Senate.
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