The Biden administration reversed a Trump-era restriction on abortion referrals by family planning clinics on Monday, reverting to how things were run during the Obama administration.
The new regulations, per the Department of Health and Human Services, will allow federally funded family planning clinics to refer women seeking abortions to a provider.
The program, also known as Title X, provides more than $250 million a year in tax-payer money for birth control and basic health care services for low-income women at family planning clinics, such as Planned Parenthood.
Under the Trump administration, the restriction was seen as highly controversial, with some dubbing it a “gag rule.” In 2019, an appeals court considered blocking the ban, however, it stayed and several states began to carve out money in their state budget to help family planning services continue to run, as the rule blocked clinics from using federal money to pay for abortions.
According to HHS, family planning clinics served roughly 3.9 million people in 2018, and that number dropped by almost 40 percent following the Trump ban, leading to over 180,000 unintended pregnancies.
During his campaign, President Biden vowed to overturn the restrictions. The new policy will go into effect Nov. 8.
The reversal comes only weeks after the Supreme Court’s controversial decision to deny an emergency appeal filed by abortion providers to block the Texas heartbeat bill.
The Texas bill blocks all abortions after six weeks and allows private citizens to file civil suits against abortion providers or those who help facilitate abortions, including people who drive someone to an appointment.
The tally was 218-211, with no Republicans voting in favor of the measure, and one Democrat, Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas), breaking party lines and voting against the legislation.
The Women’s Health Protection Act — introduced by Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif.) — would bar restrictions to abortions including “mandatory waiting periods, biased counseling, two-trip requirements, and mandatory ultrasounds.”
On Monday, the Supreme Court began its new term and will hear arguments for a highly anticipated case over a Mississippi law that bans most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade.
Lower courts in the state blocked the ban, but the Supreme Court agreed to review those rulings. The court will hear those arguments starting Dec. 1.
with Associated Press