"None of the funds appropriated in this Act may be used to carry out Title X of the PHS Act."
That simple sentence constitutes the entirety of Section 226 in a bill a House subcommittee passed last week.
In its report on this bill, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies explained why it included this sentence.
"The committee does not recommend funding for the Family Planning program," says the report. "The Family Planning program administers Title X of the Public Health Service Act."
If this language remains in the final fiscal 2018 funding bill that President Donald Trump signs into law, it will save taxpayers $286,479,000.
But it will also do something much greater than that.
Two words the subcommittee does not use in the bill, signify why defunding Title X is profoundly significant: Planned Parenthood.
For years, the federal government has been funneling taxpayer money to the nation's largest abortion provider through two streams: Medicaid and Title X.
A review by the Government Accountability Office published in 2015 showed that in fiscal 2012 Planned Parenthood received $400.56 million from Medicaid and $64.35 million from Title X. That year, according to Planned Parenthood's annual report, it aborted 327,166 babies.
Defenders of Title X will argue that Planned Parenthood cannot use Title X money for abortions.
"The law (42 U.S.C. 300a-6)," says a Congressional Research Service report published in 2016, "prohibits the use of Title X funds in programs where abortion is a method of family planning."
But can the same clinics that get Title X funds abort babies?
The same CRS report cites a "voluntary" survey conducted by HHS that determined the answer: Yes.
"It is unclear exactly how many Title X clinics also provide abortions through their non-Title X activities," said CRS. "In 2004, following appropriations conference report directions, HHS surveyed its Title X grantees on whether their clinic sites also provided abortions with nonfederal funds. Grantees were informed that responses were voluntary and 'without consequence, or threat of consequence, to non-responsiveness.' The survey did not request identifying information. HHS mailed surveys to 86 grantees and received 46 responses. Of these, 9 indicated that at least one their clinic sites (17 clinic sites in all) also provided abortions with non-federal funds."
A 2011 editorial in the journal "Contraception," also cited by CRS, argued for Title X, explaining how useful its funding can be for a clinic.
"Title X helps support staff salaries, not just for clinicians but for front-desk staff, educators and finance and administration staff," said this editorial.
"Title X provides for individual patient education as well as community-level outreach and public education about family planning and women's health issues," it said.
"Title X also helps to support the infrastructure necessary to keep the doors open -- subsidizing rent, utilities and infrastructure needs like health information technology," the editorial declared.
So the question is as simple as the language in Section 226 of the House subcommittee's bill: Why should American taxpayers be forced to pay for the clinicians, staff, information technology, utilities, rent, community-level outreach and public education of an abortion provider?
Why should taxpayers be forced "to support the infrastructure necessary to keep the doors open" for an abortion provider?
For that matter, why should taxpayers be forced to pay for all of these things for a contraception distributor?
As much as the pro-abortion rights left argues that there is a "right to privacy" that empowers people to kill unborn children, it also apparently believes an intrusive federal government has a "responsibility" to get involved in a person's decision on whether to "have" or "avoid" having a baby.
The CRS cites a report on Title X that the Institute of Medicine did on behalf of the Office of Population Affairs, the bureaucracy that runs Title X.
"IOM," said CRS, "found that family planning -- 'helping people have children when they want to and avoid conception when they do not -- is a critical social and public health goal,' and that the 'federal government has a responsibility to support the attainment of this goal.'"
That is wrong. The House subcommittee is right.
The federal government has no rightful authority to force taxpayers to support an abortion provider such as Planned Parenthood or organizations that promote their particular vision of "family planning."
The Obamacare reconciliation bill that has now floundered included language to prohibit Medicaid money from going to Planned Parenthood. Congressional Republicans should find another viable vehicle for eliminating that part of Planned Parenthood's funding.
The full Appropriations Committee takes up the bill that defunds Title X on Wednesday. Republicans should keep that simple sentence defunding Title X in their appropriations bill all the way to Donald Trump's desk.
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