While legislators in states like Texas, Florida and Mississippi remind us that Republicans only advocate for small, non-intrusive governments after they’re done regulating women’s bodies and reproductive options, the Biden administration is lifting a Trump-era restriction barring clinics from referring pregnant women to abortion providers.
Before we continue, let’s just talk about the sheer hypocrisy of conservative Republicans. Donald “Grab ’em by the p***y” Trump implemented a policy banning medical professionals, not from offering abortions themselves, but for telling women where they can get the procedure done elsewhere. Imagine being that deep into everyone else’s business while claiming to be anti-big government and pro-personal freedoms.
Anyway, according to the Associated Press, “The Department of Health and Human Services said Monday its new regulation will restore the federal family planning program to the way it ran under the Obama administration,” when clinics were allowed to offer guidance to women who wished to terminate their unwanted pregnancies and people who pretend to be pro-life—so long as the “life” isn’t a brown immigrant, a Black person unjustly shot by police or poor children at literally any time after they’ve exited the womb—pretty much had to suck it up and mind their own affairs.
The Trump policy affected what is known as Title X, a taxpayer-funded program that grants clinics $25 million annually to provide birth control and other basic health care services mainly to women in the lower-income bracket. The rule banning abortion referrals reportedly caused some 1,300 family planning facilities to end their practices in protest, but now that the ban has been lifted, advocacy groups representing the clinics say they hope the facilities will return.
“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 National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association, told AP. “My sense is that people have been waiting for the rule.”
In fact, according to AP, “Title X family planning clinics served about 3.9 million clients in 2018, but HHS estimates that number fell by nearly 40% after the Trump policy.”
Planned Parenthood, the nation’s leading woman’s health provider and the facility right-wingers believe to be a real-life temple of doom, also praised the Biden administration for ending what’s known as the “gag rule,” while also criticizing the new policy for including a stipulation that allows individual clinicians to decline to refer an abortion provider.
So it’s not a perfect ruling, but it’s a huge step in the right direction and a sharp departure from typical Republican policy, which tends to involve sitting a bunch of old white men in a room where they decide what women should be doing with their bodies.