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Biden administration reverses rule banning federally funded clinics from making abortion referrals

The Biden administration has rescinded a Trump-era rule banning any provider who offers abortions or refers patients for abortions from receiving Title X funding. 

The Department of Health and Human Services on Monday announced it's finalizing the reversal of the rule, effective November 8. Title X funding covers health care services like STD screenings and contraception for low-income Americans. Supporters of the Trump-era rule, implemented in March 2019, saw it as a way to take funding away from Planned Parenthood and other groups that provide abortion services, and as a way to potentially curb some abortions. 

"This rule is a step forward for family planning care as it aims to strengthen and restore our nation's Title X program," HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a statement. "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."  

A 2020 HHS report found the Title X program saw a roughly 63% decline in family planning patients between 2018 to 2020, a decrease the department attributed to the Trump-era rule. HHS says the 2021 rule will make sure low-income clients who rely on Title X services can have the same access to health care as patients with more financial means. 

Federal law currently prohibits federal funding from being used directly for most abortions through the Hyde Amendment,  which restricts federal funding from supporting abortions except in instances of rape, incest or to save the life of the mother. But some Democrats are hoping to change that, although Senator Joe Manchin has said the Hyde Amendment must be included in Democrats' social spending or reconciliation bill to receive his support. 

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