New Trump Administration Move Deals Significant Blow to Planned Parenthood

By Monica Burke, Research Assistant, DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society at The Heritage Foundation.

The Department of Health and Human Services is expected to soon file a proposal that would update regulations of the Title X Family Planning grant program—and likely deny Planned Parenthood millions of taxpayer dollars.

The proposal would require Title X grant recipients to maintain a strict physical and financial separation between their family planning programs and abortion services.

That means that if Planned Parenthood wants to continue to receive an annual $50 to $60 million in Title X funds, it would have to disentangle its abortion services from taxpayer funds first and they could no longer be housed with an abortion clinic.

This proposal would also increase transparency among grant recipients and ensure that existing regulations are duly observed.

Under current law and regulations, Title X grants cannot be used directly for abortion services and grant recipients are prohibited from providing abortion as a method of family planning. Requiring grant recipients to keep family planning programs and abortion-related services financially separate ensures that Title X funds are used appropriately.

Moreover, the proposal does not cut funding for family planning services. Family planning programs that do not provide or refer for abortions are free to apply for grants.

In fact, this proposed change may enable even more groups to apply for funds.

The proposal would do away with a current mandate that projects must counsel or refer for abortion—a requirement that may be a barrier of entry for groups that object to abortion on medical or moral grounds but may have otherwise applied for Title X funding.

This change would build upon a previous expansion on who can apply for Title X and what they can offer. In February 2018, the Department of Health and Human Services issued a directive known as the Federal Opportunity Announcement that encouraged natural family planning or “fertility awareness” providers to apply for family planning grants, too.

This directive would expand women’s options in health care—and call out Planned Parenthood’s bluff that it has a monopoly on women’s health care.

As for the latest proposal on separating abortion services from family planning programs, a legal challenge is likely. However, the proposed regulations are similar to Reagan-era regulations, and those were upheld by the Supreme Court in Rust v. Sullivan.

This proposal is a major victory for pro-lifers, but there is still more to be done. A recent Government Accountability Office report revealed Planned Parenthood received over $1.5 billion in taxpayer funds in the course of three years.

These shocking figures should remind Congress that it must end taxpayer funding for abortion once and for all and defund Planned Parenthood now.

Until then, Congress and the administration should continue to pursue policies like this proposed rule that ensure taxpayer dollars are not spent on abortion.

*To view this commentary on The Daily Signal, click here.

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