Abortion Funding Change Already Bearing Fruit for Life

October 23, 2019

In May 2018, the Trump administration proposed changes to the rules which govern the Title X Family Planning Program. These changes, finalized on March 4, 2019, are known as the Protect Life Rule. This rule provides existing and prospective Title X grantees with a straightforward choice: comply with the rule and separate their family planning services from abortion activities or choose to relinquish their federal grant funding.

Now that the Protect Life Rule is going into effect, abortion advocates are not happy. In August, Planned Parenthood and several pro-abortion states made headlines when they refused to separate their family planning services from their abortion activities. They instead chose to withdraw from the Title X program, prioritizing abortion procedures and referrals over providing affordable family planning services to women in need.

Ever since these pro-abortion groups decided to forgo federal funding, they have been attempting to pin the blame for the loss of federal funds on anything and everything but their own love of abortion. Just this week, the Kaiser Family Foundation and Power to Decide, two abortion-friendly groups, published reports that attempt to paint Planned Parenthood as an essential, irreplaceable provider of quality family planning care. They assert that, without Title X federal funding going to Planned Parenthood and other pro-abortion groups, there will be a dramatic decline in family planning services.

These misleading claims ignore several key facts. First, states that chose to withdraw from the Title X Program -- Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, and Washington -- almost immediately earmarked state funds to replace the lost federal funding. Therefore, clinics in these states will not see any decrease in family planning funding. Second, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently announced $33.6 million in additional Title X grants to make up for any gaps that were left when grantees withdrew from the program. Finally, the Protect Life Rule removed the requirement that all grantees provide abortion referrals to their patients. This will expand the number of providers and improve the quality of family planning care available to women across America because additional pro-life and faith-based providers who have a moral objection to abortion are now eligible to apply for Title X grants.

The ongoing attacks on the Trump administration for implementing the Protect Life Rule are just another example of radical liberals wanting to delegitimize our government institutions. The groups that withdrew from the Title X program and refuse to accept responsibility for their own choice believe that they, as past grant recipients, get to dictate the terms and requirements of the grant. But the authority to make rules governing grants rests instead with the federal government, which is beholden to taxpayers. All reasonably-minded organizations know that if they accept federal or even state grant money, they are beholden to the rules and requirements set by the government. This obligation to comply with rules governing grants is a primary reason why many faith-based organizations have not applied for Title X grants in the past. In 1993, the Clinton administration issued the requirement that all grantees provide abortion referrals to their patients.

Pro-abortion groups want to issue commands to the government and create politicized legal battles when they do not get their way. Meanwhile, this administration went through the federal rulemaking process, accepting public comments and adhering to what is required by law. This administration kept faith-based providers in mind when they decided to keep abortion promotion separate from the federal family planning program.

The Protect Life Rule is just one of several pro-life victories President Trump has accomplished by using the proper executive actions at his disposal. Since taking office, he has implemented the Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance Policy (which bans taxpayer funding for abortion providers overseas), further restrictions on fetal tissue research, and an expanded conscience protection rule that covers healthcare providers who have moral objections to performing abortions. Back when the Obama administration was implementing regulations, one of which forced religious non-profits like the Little Sisters of the Poor to provide contraception to their employees against their conscience, pro-abortion groups had no problem with executive actions. However, ever since HHS took a strong pro-life stance under the leadership of President Trump, pro-abortion groups would rather undermine the process than play by the rules.