Jen Psaki Has Intense Exchange with Reporter Pushing Back on Title X Abortion Provider Funding

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Posted: Apr 15, 2021 2:17 PM
Jen Psaki Has Intense Exchange with Reporter Pushing Back on Title X Abortion Provider Funding

Source: AP Photo/Evan Vucci

Editor's Note: This story has been updated to include a statement from Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT)

On Wednesday, the Biden administration proposed restoring Title X funding for family planning providers which perform, counsel on, or refer for abortions at the same building where they carry out other family planning services. This was not an entirely surprising move. In addition to how President Joe Biden campaigned and has served as a pro-abortion president, I recently reported that the Department of Health & Human Services had announced that a change to rules was coming. Coincidentally, that announcement from HHS came the day Sec. Xavier Becerra was confirmed by the U.S. Senate in a 50-49 vote. The Trump administration had issued a rule barring such family planning providers from receiving funds.

Planned Parenthood, the nation's largest abortion provider, was at the center of this debate over rule. The Trump administration offered to keep their funding if they would cease performing abortions, though they adamantly refused.

Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT) also referenced the abortion giant when he told Townhall that "President Biden took millions from the abortion industry during his campaign. Now, Planned Parenthood is cashing in." The senator is the chair and founder of the U.S. Senate's pro-life caucus. 

His office also issued a press release on Wednesday. "Abortion is not family planning, it is family destruction. President Biden’s actions today are an attempt to provide a taxpayer funded giveaway to Planned Parenthood and the abortion industry. This defies the law and tramples over the consciences of health care providers and the American taxpayers," Sen. Daines said in no uncertain terms, with original emphasis.

The press release laid out some consequences of this proposed rule:

  • Allow taxpayer-funded Title X programs to support and promote abortion
  • Provide tens of millions of dollars in funding to Planned Parenthood and the abortion industry each year
  • Force providers, including faith-based providers, to refer for abortion in a blatant violation of the Weldon Amendment

Such points were also raised during a contentious exchange during Wednesday's press briefing. During the press briefing, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki made it clear that the administration plans to rescind the Trump administration's thus restoring funding. While she struggled to communicate the full details, she did note that "our point of view is certainly they should be rescinded."

She also got into an intense exchange with EWTN's Owen Jensen. The back and forth highlighted what is really at stake when it comes to funding, and the difference of opinions on abortion.

Jensen: Jen, thank you. Back to Title X, if I may.  So today, as you well know, the Biden administration and HHS started the reversal of the Trump administration’s ban on abortion referrals at Title X family planning clinics. So my first question: Why does the Biden administration insist that pro-life Americans pay for abortions and violate their conscience?

Psaki:  Well, first, that’s not an accurate depiction of what happened, so let me — and I know we want to be accurate around here.  “None of the funds appropriated under this title shall be used in programs where abortion is a method of family planning.”  That is written into the Public Health Service Act, and it specifically states that.

Jensen: But we know there’s indirect subsidies, money that’s fungible, that can’t be traced.  We know that.  Come on.

Psaki: That is not how it works.  That is the law.  So I’m stating what the law is and how it is implemented legally by these organizations. And the reason I, though — since you gave me the opportunity — the reason why the President took these steps is because he believes that advancing equity for all — including people of color and others who have been historically underserved, marginalized, and adversely affected by persistent poverty and inequality — can be helped by these actions.  And by focusing on advancing equity in the Title X program, we can create opportunities for the improvement of communities that have been historically underserved, which benefits everyone.  That’s how these fundings are used in communities.

Jensen: You talk about equity — if I may interrupt.  How is it equity, how is it fighting systemic racism when abortion, we well know, disproportionately affects minority children?

Psaki: Again, funding cannot be used from this for abortion, but access to healthcare — access to healthcare in communities — in communities that have been marginalized, underserved, adversely affected by persistent poverty — is always going to be something the President fights for.

Jensen: So you’re telling me one —

Psaki:  Okay.  I think I’ve answered your question.

Jensen is well-versed on the issue, and it shows. The most accurate point and thus takeaway from this ought to be that "money [is] fungible." Such is a leading argument as to why Planned Parenthood should be defunded once and for all. The organization took in $618.1 million of "Government Health Services Reimbursements & Grants," according to its own annual report for the 2019-2020 fiscal year.

Another topic Jensen tried to fight back on is the issue of race, especially when Psaki tried to echo a department talking point, which is often parroted by abortion advocates.

To bring it back to Jensen's original question, though, and rebut Psaki's response, there isn't actually "equity for all," for "pro-life Americans [who would have to] pay for abortions and violate their conscience," and certainly not for the unborn, including and especially those in minority communities.

Again, the move is disappointing but not surprising when it comes to taxpayers funding abortion industry. While Psaki and others will tout that funding can't directly go towards elective abortions, they're certainly hellbent on their crusade to change that. Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate have introduced legislation to repeal the Hyde Amendment.