Title X does not pay for abortions, but under the Clinton administration’s 2000 rule, grant recipients had to provide abortion counseling and abortion referrals to clients upon request.
In May of 2018, the Trump administration first proposed requiring a strict physical and financial line of separation between Title X programs and any program or facility that performs abortion, or supports or refers for abortion.
The change of regulations did not impact the amount of funding allocated for Title X family planning programs, but rather changed who was eligible to receive such funds.
The March 2019 implementation of the Protect Life Rule, as the previous administration’s policy was known, mandated Title X fund recipients to be both physically and financially separate from facilities that perform abortions. It also made abortion counseling optional and forbade Title X recipients from referring for abortions.
After the new rules were announced, Planned Parenthood said it was exiting the Title X program in order to continue performing abortions.
Planned Parenthood had been receiving about one-fifth of the total amount of Title X funds distributed, and withdrawing from the program meant a $60 million cut in federal funding for the organization each year. Planned Parenthood still receives roughly $500 million annually in Medicaid reimbursement.
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The HHS, in its rule-change proposal, cited statistics from the Planned Parenthood-affiliated Guttmacher Institute that claimed that the 2019 rule led to nearly 182,000 “unintended” pregnancies.
A thirty-day comment period for the public on the proposed changes will open on April 15.
In March 2021, on the same day that nominee Xavier Becerra was confirmed as the next HHS Secretary, the agency said it would implement the rule-change.