In fulfillment of a campaign promise to stop tax dollars from paying for abortions, President Donald Trump announced a proposal aimed at protecting life in the Title X Family Planning Grant Program.
The proposal is designed to update regulations to ensure taxpayer funds aren’t used for programs where abortion is part of family planning.
The administration request would block facilities from receiving federal dollars for family planning if they are housed in the same facility as a clinic that provides abortions.
The Department of Health and Human Services said that the proposal was being filed in order to “ensure compliance” with laws that prohibit federal funds from going toward abortions. The amount the federal government spends on family planning services, including birth control, STD testing and cancer screenings, will not be cut. The program covers 4 million low-income people.
The intent of the proposal is to shift federal funds from Planned Parenthood and instead to community and rural health centers, or otherwise pressure Planned Parenthood to no longer provide abortions.
It does not cut funding or family planning services but makes clear that abortion is not considered family planning.
Change affects small portion of Planned Parenthood funding
If the proposal is adopted, Planned Parenthood would still keep the overwhelming majority of its funding, which is mostly provided under Medicaid and may only be cut off through legislation signed into law by the president.
White House officials say “the proposal would require a bright line of physical as well as financial separation between Title X programs and any program (or facility) where abortion is performed, supported or referred for as a method of family planning.”
Planned Parenthood is the country’s largest abortion provider. In 2009, the organization performed just over 330,000 abortions, about 40 percent of all abortions that year. It is expected to sue to stop the rule change.
“Everyone has the right to information about their healthcare—including information about safe, legal abortion, and every woman deserves the best medical care and information, no matter how much money she makes or where she lives. No matter what,” said Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “They won’t get it under this rule.”
An administration official denied that the proposal would contain a “gag rule” preventing doctors from counseling women about abortion, as several news reports have stated, though acknowledged that the rule would no longer contain a mandate that clinics must counsel and refer for abortion.
Pro-life groups hailed the rule change as a campaign promise kept.
Ed Stetzer tweeted:
For a long time, the nation’s largest abortion provider, #PlannedParenthood, has pretended that abortion is not central to its work, so this gives them an opportunity to show that it is not. I’m thankful that the Trump administration has made this move. https://t.co/m7CckjTGAY
— Ed Stetzer (@edstetzer) May 18, 2018
Mallory Quigley, vice president of communications for the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List, told NPR, “Clearly they (Planned Parenthood) view the Title X Family Planning Program as their personal slush fund, to which only they are entitled for propping up their massive abortion enterprise.”
The 1970 law establishing Title X states: “None of the funds appropriated under this title shall be used in programs where abortion is a method of family planning.” But in the 1970s and 1980s, the law was interpreted to allow Title X programs to refer patients for abortions, be co-located with abortion clinics, and lobby for pro-abortion policies—so long as federal dollars did not directly fund abortions. In 1988, President Reagan’s secretary of Health and Human Services issued regulations to end these practices that blurred the line between funding contraception and promoting abortion.
The 1988 Reagan regulation was immediately challenged in court and never enforced, but it was upheld by the Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision. However, Bill Clinton took office and killed the Reagan regulation, a policy that has remained in effect to this day.