Biden administration reverses Trump abortion referral ban for family planning clinics

The Biden administration on Monday rescinded former President Trump’s rule banning family planning clinics from providing abortion referrals to patients, as debates over abortion have taken center stage.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced its last regulation to finalize the reversal of the Trump-era rule designed to prevent clinics from receiving Title X federal funding if they refer patients to abortion providers.

Biden’s rule, which returns the Title X program to how it functioned between 2000 and 2019, will take effect on Nov. 8.

Context: The half-century-old Title X program supports clinics caring for mostly low-income populations, including infertility treatment, contraceptive education and counseling, and breast and cervical cancer screenings.

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.”

About a quarter of clinics that received Title X funding left the program in response to the Trump-era rule, according to the Guttmacher Institute.

The updated rule also comes after Texas implemented a new law last month allowing private citizens to sue anyone suspected of aiding or abetting in an abortion and as the Supreme Court prepares to hear arguments on Mississippi’s 15-week ban in December.