The Biden administration will be soon doing away with Trump-era policies that gave medical workers such as doctors and others power to refuse to provide services that conflict with their religious or moral beliefs, Politico reports. Former President Trump announced the rule in 2018, but it was never implemented.
U.S. District Judge Paul Engelmayer struck the rule down in November 2019; his ruling stated it “would upend the legal status quo” and potentially jeopardize billions of dollars in federal health care funds.” If the rule had gone forward, doctors, nurses, medical students, and pharmacists could refuse to provide abortions, contraception, gender-affirming care, HIV and STD services, vasectomies, or any procedure they object to.
This is on the heels of many GOP-led states enacting restrictions on reproductive rights and transgender care. The Department of Health and Human Services could propose the change as soon as the end of the month. Currently, the step is under review at the Office of Management and Budget.
“As state politicians continue to strip people of their sexual and reproductive rights and freedoms, it’s imperative that the Biden-Harris administration revoke this discriminatory policy and help ensure people can access the health care and information they need when they need it,” said Jacqueline Ayers, the senior vice president of policy, organizing and campaigns for Planned Parenthood, which was part of a lawsuit against the Trump administration rule in 2019. “We look forward to seeing the details of the new rule and are excited about this step forward.”
Some advocacy groups are waiting to see if the Biden administration is completely undoing the rule or leaving some aspects in place before they see this as a step in the right direction.
“We look forward to seeing the proposed rule’s text to ensure that the federal government safeguards patients’ need for high-quality health care,” said Audrey Sandusky, the spokesperson for the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association. Still, she added, “This action will go a long way toward strengthening patient access to high-quality health care and protecting the integrity of key HHS programs, including the Title X family planning program.”