'Protect Life Rule' to strip Planned Parenthood of some federal funds

Crowds at the March for Life in Washington DC on Jan 27 2017 Credit Jeff Bruno 34 CNA The March for Life in Washington, D.C., Jan. 27, 2017. | Jeff Bruno/CNA

After the Trump administration finalized new federal rules on Friday, by which abortion clinics will be ineligible to receive Title X Program funding. Planned Parenthood is expected to be stripped of about $60 million in federal funds due to the rule change.

The finalized version of the "Protect Life Rule" was announced in a  Feb. 22 press release from the Department of Health and Human Services. Title X funding was not cut as a result of the new rules, which impact eligibility requirements.

"Today, the Trump administration took an imperative first step in the right direction by preventing Title X funds from being misused by those who promote and profit from abortion," March for Life President Jeanne Mancini told CNA.

"Abortion is not healthcare, yet for decades the federal government has voluntarily supported abortion by subsidizing the industry with hundreds of millions of tax dollars every year," Mancini said.

Title X is a federal program created in 1965 that subsidizes family-planning and preventative health services, including contraception, for low-income families. It has been frequently updated and subject to new regulations.

Among other provisions, the Protect Life Rule requires that there be a physical and financial separation between recipients of Title X funds and facilities that perform abortions. Clinics that provide "nondirective counseling" about abortion can still receive funds.  

Previous regulations, written during Bill Clinton's presidency, not only allowed for health clinics that were co-located with abortion clinics to receive funds, but also required that Title X recipients refer patients for abortions.

Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), chairman of the Bipartisan Congressional Pro-Life Caucus, said the new rules move Title X closer to "its originally intended purpose--the provision of family planning services, not abortions."

Smith said that Title X funding was "never" meant to promote abortion services.

"I am grateful that the Trump Administration has affirmed human life and dignity with this pro-child rule," Smith said in a Feb. 22 statement.

President Donald Trump announced in May 2018 that his administration had proposed a rule that would block Planned Parenthood from receiving Title X funds.

"For decades, American taxpayers have been wrongfully forced to subsidize the abortion industry" through Title X funds, Trump told the crowd.

He said then that this new rule is "another promise" he had kept to the pro-life movement.

Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser said in a Feb. 22 statement that she was thankful Trump took "decisive action to detangle taxpayers from the big abortion industry led by Planned Parenthood."

Dannenfelser, like Smith, wrote that she felt as though Title X had strayed from its original intentions as a family planning program.

"The Title X program was not intended to be a slush fund for abortion businesses like Planned Parenthood, which violently ends the lives of more than 332,000 unborn babies a year and receives almost $60 million a year in Title X taxpayer dollars. We thank President Trump and (HHS) Secretary Azar for ensuring that the Title X program is truly about funding family planning, not abortion."

Planned Parenthood is still eligible for federal funds that are not part of Title X. Last year, Planned Parenthood received over $500 million in federal funding.

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