The Biden Administration on Wednesday issued a proposed rule to undo a harmful Trump-era policy, known as the “domestic gag rule,” that targeted the Title X family planning program with regulations limiting access to reproductive health care services.
The Administration’s proposed rule change aims to restore the Title X program by reinstating regulations instituted in 2000 with modifications intended to strengthen the program and ensure access to reproductive health care, particularly for people living on low incomes. A 30-day comment period on the proposed rule opened on April 15.
“We welcome the proposed rule released by HHS, which is an important step toward undoing the damage to the Title X program caused by the domestic gag rule and ensuring increased access to affordable, essential reproductive health care services,” said Freya Riedlin, Federal Policy Council at the Center for Reproductive Rights. “The new rule would begin to restore and strengthen the program and demonstrate a strong commitment to advancing health equity.”
Center applauds proposed rule change to undo domestic gag rule
The Center for Reproductive Rights applauds the Biden Administration’s move to end the domestic gag rule and restore access to Title X-funded services, including contraception, sexual health care, and other reproductive health services. The Center will be submitting a comment in support of the proposed rule change.
The domestic gag rule, implemented by the Trump administration in 2019, prohibits providers in the Title X network from referring patients for abortion care. It also requires physical and financial separation of Title X services from abortion care and rescinds a prior requirement that all providers in the Title X network offer information and counseling to pregnant patients on their options—including prenatal care and delivery, infant care, foster care and adoption, and abortion care—in a manner that is nondirective and does not steer patients toward a particular option.
The rule resulted in more than 1,000 health centers across 33 states leaving the program and nearly halved the network’s capacity to serve patients. Six states—Hawaii, Maine, Oregon, Utah, Vermont, and Washington—are now without a single provider with Title X funding.
The Title X program disproportionately serves people that face significant barriers to accessing health care, including people with low incomes, Black, Indigenous, and other people of color, people living in rural areas, and members of the LGBTQ community.
50-year-old Title X family planning program is essential for health equity
The Title X program is the nation’s only dedicated family planning safety net, providing reproductive health care services to over four million people living on low incomes who are under-and uninsured. Health centers that make up the Title X network play an essential role in ensuring access to contraceptive care and counseling, STI testing and treatment, HIV services, cancer screenings, and other preventive health care.
The Title X program was created by Congress in 1970 to provide family planning and preventive health screenings that would otherwise be out of reach for many people. Although a previous version of the domestic gag rule was imposed by President Reagan in 1988, that version never went into effect and was rescinded by the Clinton administration after intense opposition from the medical community and Congress.
Earlier this year, in January 2021, President Joe Biden issued an executive order committing to repeal the Trump administration’s Title X domestic gag rule. The executive order also repealed the Global Gag Rule, a policy intended to force reproductive health centers around the world to stop providing and referring abortion care. The order also withdrew U.S. co-sponsorship and signature from the anti-abortion and anti-LGBTQI+ Geneva Consensus Declaration and restored funding to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).
- CEO Nancy Northup’s Statement on President Biden’s Executive Order, 01.28.2021
- Center Urges Biden Administration to Take Quick Action to Advance Reproductive Health and Rights, 1.22.2021
- Center for Reproductive Rights Denounces Trump Administration’s Attack on Title X Family Planning Program, 5.23.2018