Washington D.C., Mar 19, 2021 / 06:00 pm (CNA).- The Biden administration is expected to allow abortion providers, including Planned Parenthood, to once again receive federal family planning funding through the Title X program.
On Thursday, the Office of Population Affairs at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a statement that it would restore Clinton-era rules for the Title X family planning program.
The agency noted that under the rule implemented in the year 2000, “the program operated successfully for years,” and that its new rule would be “substantively similar” to that rule with “a few definitional updates that account for minor operational changes over the past 20 years.”
The Title X program provides grants for family planning services. Under the 1970 law that established the program, none of the funds can be used in programs where abortion is a method of family planning.
Under the Clinton administration’s 2000 rule, however, grant recipients had to provide abortion counseling and abortion referrals to clients upon request.
The Trump administration in 2019 changed that policy, making abortion counseling optional and forbidding Title X recipients both from referring for abortions and from being co-located with abortion facilities. Rather than comply with the rule, Planned Parenthood withdrew from the program later that year.
On Thursday – the same day that nominee Xavier Becerra was confirmed as the next HHS Secretary – the agency said it would implement the rule-change.
HHS said that “[t]his new rule will be published “no later than April 15, 2021” and the rule will be “in place by early fall and effective in time for the Fiscal Year 2022 funding announcement, which is expected to be issued in December 2021.”
In May of 2018, the Trump administration first proposed requiring a strict physical and financial line of separation between Title X programs and any program or facility that performs abortion, or supports or refers for abortion.
The change of regulations did not impact the amount of funding allocated for Title X family planning programs, but rather changed who was eligible to receive such funds. Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider, received about $60 million annually from Title X.
Pro-life leaders were displeased with the administration’s decision to revert Title X regulations back to mirroring the Clinton-era policy.
“From day one the Biden-Harris administration has pushed a radical and deeply unpopular agenda on abortion,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, in a statement on Tuesday.
“On the very same day Xavier Becerra – a notoriously eager pro-abortion advocate – is confirmed to lead HHS, the agency announces plans to rewrite Title X and force taxpayers to fund the abortion industry. President Trump’s Protect Life Rule sought to honor both the plain statutory language and the will of Americans of all stripes who oppose using taxpayer dollars to fund abortion on demand.”
Meanwhile, pro-abortion officials and groups were elated by both Becerra’s confirmation to lead HHS and the announced changes to Title X.
“Thank goodness. The Trump Admin’s Title X gag rule made it harder for millions of patients to get health care they needed from providers they trust,” said Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) on Twitter on Friday in response to the proposed changes.
Planned Parenthood Action Fund tweeted that the changes are a “key step towards what we’ve been fighting for.”
“It’s time we Fix Title X and restore access to essential reproductive health care,” they said.