Because of the Trump administration’s Title X rule change (the “Protect Life Rule”) requiring a fiscal and physical separation between recipients’ family planning and abortion businesses, as well as preventing recipients from referring for abortion, many abortion providers and pro-abortion organizations across the country have announced their intentions to protest the new rule by rejecting all Title X federal funding. While the Ninth Circuit has ruled that the change could go into immediate effect, allowing the Trump administration to defund Planned Parenthood by $60 million, the Department of Health and Human Services issued surprise guidance late Saturday night. It requires state governments and organizations like Planned Parenthood affiliates that currently receive the grants to submit written assurance to comply with the new rule by August 19th. Prior to this announcement, the Trump administration had decided early last week to move forward with enforcing the rule, effective immediately.
The organizations must attest to the HHS that they do not commit abortions as a family planning method or otherwise provide for abortions. This move will give these abortion providers more time to cooperate. The Washington Post reports:
The Trump administration has backtracked on an announcement five days earlier that had required federal funded family planning centers to immediately stop referring women for abortions, giving the clinics two more months to comply.
In a rare Saturday night notice to Planned Parenthood affiliates, state governments and other organizations that receive federal family planning grants, Health and Human Services Department officials wrote that no group would be penalized yet for failing to obey with this and other rule changes.
The HHS said in a statement reported by the Daily Herald that it is “committed to working with grantees to help them comply with the requirements of the new final rule.” According to NPR, the purpose of the administration’s delayed enforcement is to show that “the government ‘does not intend to bring enforcement actions’ against clinics that are making ‘good-faith efforts to comply.”
The Protect Life Rule, announced last May, will prohibit recipients from performing abortions and referring patients for abortions. “Without reducing Title X funding by a dime, the Protect Life Rule simply draws a bright line between abortion and family planning, stopping abortion businesses like Planned Parenthood from treating Title X as their private slush fund,” said Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser.
New York City has announced its intent to reject $1.3 million in funding, and three major organizations in Illinois plan to forego a combined $8 million in funding. Planned Parenthood of Southern New England plans to reject $2.1 million. After its Illinois affiliate announced it’s intended noncompliance, the national Planned Parenthood organization also said it would reject millions of dollars in Title X funding.
In a statement reported by ABC, Planned Parenthood’s top lobbyist Jacqueline Ayers said, “We are not going to comply with a regulation that would require health care providers to not give full information to their patients. We believe as a health care provider it is wrong to withhold health care information from patients.” Ayers is, of course, referring to the requirement that Title X recipients not refer patients for abortion. However, abortion — the deliberate act of killing a developing human being in the womb — is not health care.
A recent study showed that Planned Parenthood received $1.5 billion federal dollars from 2013 to 2015, and Planned Parenthood’s second largest source of federal funding (after Medicaid) comes from the Title X ‘family planning’ program. While groups like Planned Parenthood claim to be providing health services like contraception and cancer screenings to low-income women, the swift rejection of millions of Title X dollars that now cannot be used for abortion suggests that abortion is the real cornerstone of these “service” providers. Planned Parenthood has said that, for the short-term, it will use “emergency funds” to cover any shortfall.
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