Over 200 Democratic members of Congress sent letters to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar Tuesday, expressing their opposition to proposed rules that would block Title X family planning funds from organizations that provide or refer for abortions.
The letter from Senate Democrats, led by Sens. Elizabeth Warren (MA), Patty Murray (WA), and Maggie Hassan (NH), argued that changing the rules to exclude abortion providers like Planned Parenthood from the funding would mean “millions of patients who obtain care at Title X-funded health centers annually would be denied the ability to receive complete and accurate information about their medical options, including counseling on, and referrals for, abortion.”
They’ve dubbed it a domestic “gag rule” due to the proposed restrictions on abortion referrals.
House Democrats, led by Reps. Joe Crowley (NY) and Barbara Lee (CA), write in their letter that “the domestic gag rule would bar patients from receiving information to support their ability to make informed decisions about their own reproductive health.”
Republicans in the House and Senate sent letters to Azar earlier this month urging him to enact the proposed rules.
They expressed concern over the findings of a recent GAO report that the nation’s largest abortion provider, Planned Parenthood, received an average of nearly $60 million annually from the Title X program between 2013 and 2015.
The GOP lawmakers also noted that requests for this rule change “are not unprecedented,” citing that the Supreme Court upheld 1988 Title X Reagan-era regulations requiring that “none of the funds appropriated under Title X may be used in programs where abortion is a method of family planning.”
Rep. Diane Black (R-TN), commented at the time that “once again, we see that federal funds are being funneled to abortion service sites when the majority of Americans are opposed to this industry.”
Pro-life groups noted in a letter to Azar that "the result of this policy is simply to separate the Title X network of family planning providers from abortionists like Planned Parenthood — the nation's largest abortion chain."
Dana Singiser, vice president of public policy and government affairs for Planned Parenthood Federation of America, applauded the Democrats’ letters to Azar.
“No one should be worried their doctor will be forced to lie to them,” Singiser commented. “No one should be kept from the best medical information and care available. No one should be prevented from getting basic care like birth control.”
“Today, more than 200 members of Congress are standing up for people’s right to health care and information, and their ability to come to Planned Parenthood,” she said.