Regulations will again allow clinics to refer women seeking abortions to a provider

The Biden administration on Monday reversed a ban on abortion referrals by family planning clinics, lifting a Trump-era restriction as political and legal battles over abortion grow sharper from Texas to the U.S. Supreme Court, the Associated Press reports.

The Department of Health and Human Services said its new regulation will restore the federal family planning program to the way it ran under the Obama administration, when clinics were able to refer women seeking abortions to a provider. The goal is to “strengthen and restore” services, said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra.

Groups representing the clinics said they hope the Biden administration action will lead some 1,300 local facilities that left in protest over Trump’s policies to return, helping to stabilize a longstanding program shaken by the coronavirus pandemic on top of ideological battles.

“I have heard that almost everywhere in the country people have made the decision that conditions will be good for them to return to the program,” Clare Coleman, president of the umbrella group National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association, said in an interview. “My sense is that people have been waiting for the rule.”

Planned Parenthood, the biggest service 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.”

© Copyright LaPresse