Congressmen urge U.S. gov’t to cut abortion groups out of family planning funds
WASHINGTON, D.C., April 13, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Lawmakers from a conservative caucus in the House of Representatives are calling on the Department of Health and Human Services to deny family planning subsidies to abortion providers.
Republican Study Committee members Reps. Ron Estes, R-KS, and Vicky Hartzler, R-MO, as well as Congressional Pro-Life Caucus co-chair Rep. Chris Smith, R-NJ, are currently collecting signatures for a letter to HHS Secretary Alex Azar, The Hill reports. It calls on the department to make any entity that offers referrals for abortions ineligible for taxpayer dollars under Title X.
Current HHS regulations only prohibit funds from being spent on “programs where abortion is a method of family planning,” though President Donald Trump signed a law last year enabling states to disqualify abortion providers within their borders.
Planned Parenthood says its locations represent 13 percent of Title X facilities and serve 40 percent of Title X patients. Federal law forbids taxpayer dollars from being directly spent on abortions, though pro-lifers argue that when abortionists receive money for other purposes, it indirectly supports abortion by enabling them to spend more revenue from other sources on abortions.
The letter argues that the existing rules are inadequate to prevent Americans’ tax dollars from supporting the abortion industry.
"Co-located centers may be vulnerable to misuse of funds in support of abortion activities and send a message that abortion is considered a method of family planning in federally funded family planning programs," it reads. "To ensure that the federally funded family planning services offered by Title X recipients are unquestionably separate and distinct from abortion, Title X service sites should be physically, as well as financially, separate from facilities that provide abortion."
Trump has pledged to defund Planned Parenthood and taken several steps to do so, though Congress has failed to follow suit. His administration has hired a number of committed pro-lifers to key positions at HHS, including Valerie Huber, chief of staff at Office of the assistant Secretary for Health; Roger Severino, head of Office of Civil Rights; and Teresa Manning, deputy assistant secretary in the Office of Population Affairs.
It has also taken several steps to take the department in a more pro-life direction, such as creating a new office dedicated to protecting religious freedom and conscience rights. On the other hand, Huber announced in February that Planned Parenthood would still be eligible for Title X funding, though she also said the administration was considering future eligibility changes.
The Republican Study Committee has yet to publicly release the letter or announce how many signatures it has collected from fellow lawmakers.
An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Rep. Smith is part of the Republican Study Committee. He is not. We apologize for the error.