The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) posted the “Protect Life” rule Friday which will partially defund Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers due to new requirements that federal Title X family planning funds cannot go to abortion facilities. It also forbids Title X locations from giving abortion referrals.
According to HHS, the rule requires “clear financial and physical separation between Title X funded projects and programs or facilities where abortion is a method of family planning. This separation will ensure adherence to statutory restrictions, and provide needed clarity for the public and for Title X clinics about permissible and impermissible activities for Title X projects.”
The new rule specifically prohibits “referral for abortion as a method of family planning,” but does not bar “nondirective counseling on abortion.” It also eliminates a “requirement that Title X providers offer abortion counseling and referral.”
Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider, runs 13 percent of Title X centers and serves about 41 percent of Title X patients, according to their website. Planned Parenthood receives about $60 million from the program.
Leana Wen, the new head of Planned Parenthood, said in an interview in January that the rule change “would compromise our ethical obligations” so the group stands to lose funding.
The rule would not reduce the overall amount of federal funds spent on family planning, but will redirect money to Title X centers that do not promote or perform abortions.
Pro-life groups, such as the March for Life and the Susan B. Anthony List, praised the move Friday.
“We thank President Trump for taking decisive action to disentangle taxpayers from the big abortion industry led by Planned Parenthood,” SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser said. “The Protect Life Rule does not cut family planning funding by a single dime, and instead directs tax dollars to entities that provide healthcare to women but do not perform abortions.”
“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,” she emphasized.
March for Life President Jeanne Mancini said the change was a “win-win” scenario.
“We applaud HHS Secretary Azar and the Trump administration on this move that protects American taxpayers from paying for abortion through Title X,” she said. “At the same time, the new regulation protects low-income women who rely on Title X assistance because no funds will be cut from the program. In fact, those women in need will receive services at federally qualified health centers (FQHC) which outnumber abortion centers 20:1. At FQHC’s women benefit from better regulatory oversight, a wider range of services, and more life-affirming options. The new Title X regulations are a win-win for all Americans.”
Planned Parenthood and NARAL condemned the changes and continued to refer to them as a “gag rule” despite the fact that it permits abortion counseling by Title X centers. The White House even pointed this out in their initial statement about the rule.
The implications of the Trump-Pence administration’s attack on Title X with a gag rule are staggering. It compromises the oath I took to serve my patients and help them make the best decisions about their health. #NoGagRule pic.twitter.com/oXxall1vd8— Leana Wen, M.D. (@DrLeanaWen) February 22, 2019
The administration has put health care providers in the Title X program in an impossible position: withhold information from its patients or get pushed out of the program.— Planned Parenthood Action (@PPact) February 22, 2019
Thousands of people will be left with nowhere to turn for health care. #NoGagRule pic.twitter.com/gZHnzU8cas
BREAKING: The Trump admin just released a finalized "domestic gag rule" that could cut off access to reproductive health services—including cancer screenings, STI testing, and birth control—for MILLIONS of Americans who are disproportionately low-income, PoC, LGBTQ, & women. pic.twitter.com/98y4nz4r7c— NARAL (@NARAL) February 22, 2019