WASHINGTON, D.C., February 22, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – The Trump administration’s Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released its final rule changing funding regulations under the Title X family planning program, a long-awaited action expected to reduce Planned Parenthood’s federal tax subsidies by almost $60 million.
President Donald Trump announced the move last May, which will require facilities providing Title X services to be physically separate from those that commit or refer for abortions. Under the previous rules, Title X services and abortions could “co-locate” in the same center, as long as the abortions were privately funded. Now, the money will be redirected to Women's Qualified Health Centers that are not involved in abortions, which dramatically outnumber Planned Parenthood locations across the United States.
According to an HHS press release and fact sheet released Friday, the finalized language requires “clear financial and physical separation between Title X funded projects and programs or facilities where abortion is a method of family planning,” bans “referral for abortion as a method of family planning,” eliminates a “requirement that Title X providers offer abortion counseling and referral,” and requires “more complete reporting by grantees about subrecipients and more clarity about informal partnerships with referral agencies.”
“The final rule amends the Title X regulation, which had not been substantially updated in nearly two decades, and makes notable improvements designed to increase the number of patients served and improve the quality of their care,” the department’s press release says. “The Department received and carefully reviewed more than 500,000 comments, and made certain changes to the final rule as a result of its consideration of the comments.”
“We thank President Trump for taking decisive action to disentangle taxpayers from the big abortion industry led by Planned Parenthood,” Susan B. Anthony List president Marjorie Dannenfelser responded. “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.”
While the rule change comes as welcome news to pro-lifers, Planned Parenthood remains far from defunded. The abortion giant is still expected to take in more than $500 million in tax dollars next year, based on its latest annual report. Its $563.8 million in funding for the most recent fiscal year was actually a $20.1 million increase over the previous year, despite the Trump administration reinstating and expanding the ban on foreign aid money to abortion groups.
The former GOP majority’s failure to defund Planned Parenthood during the president’s first two years remains a source of frustration among pro-lifers, particularly now that the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives can block defunding legislation. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refused House pro-lifers’ calls to reconsider Senate filibuster rules to pass pro-life bills, and National Review reports that former House Speaker Paul Ryan downplayed defunding Planned Parenthood during budget negotiations.
For the next two years, the pro-life agenda in the federal government is largely focused on confirming hopefully-pro-life judges in the Senate, introducing legislation that cannot pass but can put pro-abortion politicians on the record, and whatever administrative actions the executive branch can take to regulate and investigate the abortion industry.