By Liberty Pike,
President Trump was elected having promised to stop taxpayer funding for Planned Parenthood. At the end of May, he began to deliver.
The Trump administration’s Department of Health and Human Services is issuing rules for the Title X preventative family planning program that will bar abortion providers from receiving Title X funding. This will eliminate roughly 10 percent ($50 to $60 million) of Planned Parenthood’s current taxpayer funding per fiscal year.
Planned Parenthood is the nation’s largest provider of abortion, performing more than 320,000 (one-third) of the annual abortions in the U.S. In 2017, the abortion business grossed $1.46 billion in revenue, roughly $100 million more than the previous fiscal year.
Of that $1.46 billion, taxpayers contributed $543.7 million through government reimbursements and grants. More than $400 million of that comes from the federal level, over which Congress has power.
None of the federal dollars are supposed to directly reimburse abortion costs. However, as any adult knows, money is fungible. If someone needs money in one area of their budget, they will simply draw money from elsewhere in the budget. To prevent such fungibility, Congress included pro-life language in the Title X law. A section declared that no federal funds “shall be used in programs where abortion is a method of family planning.”
In 1988, the Reagan administration issued new Title X rules that prohibited qualified providers from promoting abortion as a family planning method. Title X facilities could not share buildings, staff, or records with a facility that provides abortion.
On May 23, 1991, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld those new rules. “The Government has no constitutional duty to subsidize an activity merely because it is constitutionally protected and may validly choose to allocate public funds for medical services relating to childbirth but not to abortion,” stated the Court.
Unfortunately, those rules were never enforced and the Clinton administration revoked them.
The Trump administration’s new rules would require physical separation of family planning and abortion facilities, repeal a current counseling requirement that women be told about abortion as an option, and ban abortion referrals. This rule does not take any money away from public health spending. Any monies forfeited by a disqualified provider (over 600 Planned Parenthood clinics, for example) would be rerouted to a qualified provider (over 4,000 health centers nationally).
The new rule is open to public comment for 60 days before being published in final. To learn how pro-life advocates can submit comments in support, please see the Action Alert on this page.
As for the remaining federal funding of Planned Parenthood, there are not enough pro-life votes in the U.S. Senate to pass a defunding bill.
A budget reconciliation process is another option but it hasn’t worked. Until the balance of power shifts in the Senate, the best route available to eliminate funding is through administrative action which is exactly what is happening with Trump’s Title X funding action.
Although the new Title X rules will only strip 10 percent of Planned Parenthood’s taxpayer funding, it is an excellent start and will affect its ability to target and take innocent lives. For example, it may force them to abandon their plans to spend $30 million targeting voters in just three states in this year’s election.
In Oregon, there are no rules preventing taxpayer funding of abortions. Planned Parenthood received $20.04 million from state dollars through the Oregon Health Plan during the 2015-2017 biennium. Of that, $1.34 million was spent on abortions (up from the $900,000 spent on abortion at Planned Parenthood in the previous biennium). It was also discovered last year that Oregon even violated the law by spending at least $1.8 million of federal money on abortions.
An attempt is being made to stop state funding of abortion through Initiative Petition 1. If you haven’t signed the petition yet, visit StopTheFunding.org. Your signature is required by June 30.
We know well that the only way we can ensure true change is by electing more pro-life advocates to office in Oregon and nationally. Even with pro-life laws, we need courageous leaders who will use their positions to advocate for the unborn.