The Biden administration has officially reversed a 2019 Trump-administration rule banning health clinics participating in the federal planning program known as Title X from referring women for abortions at Planned Parenthood and other providers.
Title X is a grant program that provides money to health clinics providing primarily low-income women with basic healthcare and family planning services. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) said the new regulation will “restore the federal planning program to the way it ran under the Obama administration when clinics were able to refer women seeking an abortion to a provider.”
The rule had been changed by HHS in April, but Biden’s decision finalized it. “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,” HHS director Xavier Becerra said in a statement.
Planned Parenthood, which had opted to stop receiving Title X funds when the Trump-era rule was in place, hailed the move by the Biden administration, describing it as “HUGE news for providers + millions of patients cut off from sexual/reproductive health services under the Trump administration – like STD treatment, cancer screenings, pre-pregnancy care, & counseling.”
This marks just the latest effort by the Biden administration to repeal pro-life policies set in place by the Trump administration. Upon assuming office in January 2021, for example, Biden reversed the prior administration’s stance on the “Mexico City Policy,” which prevents overseas organizations that provide abortion services from receiving U.S. tax funding, and removed U.S. support for the “Geneva Consensus,” a historic pro-life declaration that pushes back against the United Nation’s pro-choice policies.
The Biden administration reversed these rules despite polling data that shows that significant majorities of Americans oppose taxpayer funding of abortion. A Knights of Columbus/Marist poll, released a week after Biden took office as president, showed that 76 percent of Americans want “significant restrictions” on abortions and 58 percent of Americans oppose using taxpayer dollars to fund abortion within the United States, including a wide coalition consisting of 83 percent Republicans, 31 percent Democrats, and 65 percent Independents.
Biden has also sought to remove the Hyde Amendment from the U.S. budget, a provision that prevents federal funds from being used to support abortion. However, Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.V., said he opposes the removal of the Hyde Amendment from the Democrats’ proposed budget reconciliation plan, stating that the bill is “dead on arrival” if the Hyde Amendment is not included. In response, Biden has implied that he would be open to signing the budget plan “either way,” even if it includes the Hyde Amendment. This could put Biden on a collision course with progressives, such as Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash, leader of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, who has said she would not vote for a bill containing the Hyde Amendment.
Biden’s political evolution, given that he once proposed a 1981 amendment which would have prohibited foreign aid from being used to fund any biomedical research related to abortion, and given the fact that he identifies as a practicing Roman Catholic, shows how much he has compromised his principles to serve the pro-abortion bent of the Democratic party’s base, which is congregated largely in coastal metros like New York City and San Francisco and whose views are not representative of the average American voter in the rest of the country.
Others who claim to be practicing Catholics, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., have also gone out of their way to champion the Democratic party’s pro-abortion agenda, backed by the party’s liberal voter base.
Increasingly, though, pro-life Catholics have started pushing back. Last June, a group of Catholic bishops advanced a document clarifying the teachings of the church in light of well-known politicians like Biden and Pelosi who regularly attend Catholic activities, such as mass and communion, but who publicly support abortion rights. Bishops advocating for the document argued that Biden and Pelosi’s support of far-left, pro-abortion policies are at odds with the Catholic Church’s pro-life teachings.
“Almost daily I speak with people, Catholics… who are confused by the fact that we have a president who professes devout Catholicism and yet advances the most radical pro-abortion agenda in our history,” said Bishop Donald Hying of Wisconsin. Hying is one of the U.S. Catholic bishops supporting the drafting of the document, which was decided on a 168-55 vote at the U.S. Catholic Bishops Conference on June 17, 2021.
While it is common for presidential administrations in the United States to overturn policies of the prior administration made by executive order, particularly if the previous administration was of a different political party than the administration currently occupying the White House, the Biden administration has been ruthless in its pro-abortion agenda. Fortunately, it may not have the final word on pro-life policy in the United States, as the Supreme Court has agreed to take up a case involving a Mississippi law that seeks to ban abortions after 15 weeks’ gestation with limited exceptions.
If the Supreme Court rules for Mississippi by overturning Roe v. Wade and enshrining the right of states to pursue their own pro-life policies, it would be a major victory for the millions of Americans who believe life begins at conception and the children whose lives would be spared — and no future presidential administration would be able to snatch that victory away through the stroke of a pen.