On Friday morning, the Department of Health and Human Services submitted a proposed rule change that would cut abortion providers from federal funds they currently receive though Title X.
Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider, receives huge chunk (between $50-$60 million) of the $287 million Title X program each year, which provides contraceptives to low-income people.
If implemented, this rule change would require abortion providers to prove there is a “bright line of physical as well as financial separation” between abortion services and other services. It would also prohibit facilities that receive Title X funds from referring patients to specific abortion centers, although it would not bar employees from counseling women about abortion in general.
“This is an attempt to take away women’s basic rights, period,” said Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, according to NBC News. “Under this rule, people will not get the health care they need. They won’t get birth control, cancer screenings, STD testing and treatment, or even general women’s health exams.”
The rule change, which HHS submitted to the Office of Management and Budget Friday morning, resurrects a rule that the Reagan administration implemented in the 1980s. The rule was challenged in court and upheld by the Supreme Court. When Bill Clinton was sworn into the presidency shortly thereafter, he did away with the rule.
Federal law already prohibits tax dollars from being spent on abortions, but abortion providers say the money they receive from the government pays for their other services. Pro-lifers have pointed out that funds are fungible — meaning that once an abortion clinic gets its hands on tax dollars, it controls how it spends the money. Government subsidies to one area allow Planned Parenthood to spend more of its non-government revenues on abortion. This proposed rule change would strengthen the regulations already on the books by interpreting them differently than the way previous administrations have.
The rule change would not defund Planned Parenthood entirely, as it would still receive funding from other government programs and departments. In a three-year period, the federal government paid abortion providers $26.5 billion, according to a study by the Government Accountability Office.
“Planned Parenthood has a long track record of scandal, including covering up the sexual abuse of young girls. It has been under investigation for waste, abuse, and potential fraud, and shouldn’t receive any taxpayer money,” said Kristen Waggoner, senior counsel at the Alliance Defending Freedom. “Today is a day for celebration for all Americans who value life and seek real health care.”
“They should have no problem making up those taxpayer dollars though with the support of celebrities, the fashion and tech industries, and Hollywood icons,” said Abby Johnson, a former director of a Planned Parenthood in Texas and founder of And Then There Were None. “Abortion is not health care, and women deserve better than their government forking over hundreds of millions of dollars to an enormous organization that seeks to strip women of their femininity by telling them abortion is equal to empowerment.”