Republican Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst led Republican senators in sending a Monday letter urging the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services not to use Title X funds to support programs that provide abortions, the Daily Caller News Foundation has learned.
The GOP lawmakers urged HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra to withdraw the Biden administration’s proposed rule that “would allow Title X funds to support programs where abortion is a method of family planning, contrary to law, and, impose onerous and illegal mandates for Title X projects to counsel and refer for abortion.”
“As Members of Congress, we have a unique Constitutional interest and oversight role in ensuring regulations governing the Title X program comport with the law and Congressional intent,” the senators wrote.
The letter is a response to action by President Joe Biden’s administration to undo former President Donald Trump’s Protect Life Rule, which prohibited Title X Family Planning Program funds from going to organizations that perform or promote abortions.
Trump ordered in July 2019 that family planning clinics be stripped of their Title X funding if they refer women for abortions. The former president’s rules required that organizations that perform abortions and make referrals do so in separate buildings from those that receive Title X federal funds.
Biden quickly took steps to reverse the policy. In a Jan. 28 executive order, the new president ordered HHS to perform a review of Title X family planning regulations and consider “as soon as practicable, whether to suspend, revise, or rescind, or publish for notice and comment proposed rules suspending, revising, or rescinding, those regulations.”
The Biden administration’s new HHS rule eliminates the separation of Title X programs and abortion providers.
“Abortion is not family planning; it is family destruction,” the senators wrote. “This principle is enshrined in Title X’s authorization in section 1008 of the Public Health Service Act. The Proposed Rule defies the law and would siphon tens of millions of taxpayer dollars in Title X funding towards Planned Parenthood and the abortion industry, to the detriment of American taxpayers, the consciences of health care providers, and the lives of unborn children.”
Thirty-three Republican senators cosigned the Monday letter, including Josh Hawley of Missouri, Tom Cotton of Arkansas, Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, and Ben Sasse of Nebraska. The letter is also supported by a number of pro-life groups, Ernst’s office said, including the Susan B. Anthony List and the March for Life, as well as the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
The Iowa senator also introduced legislation in April that would prohibit taxpayer dollars from going to Planned Parenthood and instead direct those funds to other eligible women’s health care providers. The bill also promises to ensure that there is not any reduction in federal funding for women’s health services.
“We must always fight to protect the most vulnerable of our society, the unborn,” Ernst told the DCNF in April. “Sadly, President Biden is working to reverse a rule from the previous administration that prevented taxpayer money from going toward abortion providers.”
Republican senators called on the Department of Justice in May 2020 to investigate reports that 37 Planned Parenthood affiliates applied for and received over $80 million in coronavirus funding “despite actual knowledge that they were ineligible for such loans.”
Planned Parenthood’s Action Fund previously acknowledged that the CARES Act legislation gave the Small Business Administration the power to exclude Planned Parenthood affiliates from receiving loans in a March 25 statement.
Despite this statement, Planned Parenthood confirmed in May 2020 that “some independent Planned Parenthood 501(c)(3) organizations applied for and were awarded loans under the eligibility rules established by the CARES Act and the Small Business Administration (SBA), which they met.”
Republican lawmakers then called for SBA Administrator Jovita Carranza to investigate how 37 Planned Parenthood affiliates received $80 million in loans. GOP lawmakers again called on SBA to investigate the PPP loans in January, accusing Parenthood of knowingly taking the loans though they were ineligible.
Since May 2020, SBA has repeatedly refused to discuss the matter to the DCNF. SBA repeatedly told the DCNF that it does not “comment on individual borrowers.”
By Mary Margaret Olohan
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