The Trump administration officially announced on Tuesday its intention to redirect a portion of federal funds from abortion providers such as Planned Parenthood.
The funds are part of the Title X program which currently provides $260 million in taxpayer money for contraception, abortion, and related services. Planned Parenthood is expected to lose $60 million as a result of the rules.
When the Title X program was first established in 1970, it prohibited the use of funds for programs where abortion is a method of family planning. This prohibition was bent in the 1970s to allow Title X-funded programs to provide abortion referrals, share facilities with abortion clinics, and lobby for pro-abortion policies.
President Ronald Reagan redrew the line in 1988 by prohibiting referrals, co-locations, and lobbying, but his order was challenged in court. By the time the Supreme Court upheld Reagan’s order, Bill Clinton took office and scrapped the regulation.
The Department of Health and Human Services published the proposed rule changes on its website on Tuesday. They will become effective in 60 days.
The new rules are mostly a re-enactment of the Reagan-era set, with two notable changes. Unlike the Reagan policies, Trump’s proposal would still allow programs to counsel clients about abortions. A Trump administration official pointed out that the rules don’t necessarily defund Planned Parenthood, as long as the organization is willing to disentangle its other services from abortions.
The second notable difference is that Trump’s proposal mandates Title X recipients to obey state and local laws on reporting sexual abuse. These changes also involve Planned Parenthood because the organization was caught in 2011 covering up for child sexual abuse and child sex trafficking as part of a multi-state undercover investigation by a pro-life group.
Title X funds make up roughly one-tenth of Planned Parenthood’s federal funding. The for-profit corporation receives $500 million in taxpayer funds annually. Defunding the rest of the sum requires Congressional approval.
In 2017, Congress passed a measure to allow states to cut funding from Planned Parenthood. A federal funding cut failed by a single vote in the Senate. Republicans had a chance to add the measure to two reconciliation bills but forfeited because Republicans Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski opposed defunding.
On May 22, President Donald Trump told attendees at the annual Campaign for Life Gala that they must work to elect more pro-life lawmakers.
“Now, for the first time since Roe v. Wade, America has a pro-life President, a pro-life Vice President, a pro-life House of Representatives, and 25 pro-life Republican state capitols,” Trump said. “But every day, between now and November, we must work together to elect more lawmakers who share our values, cherish our heritage, and proudly stand for life.”
Calls to defund Planned Parenthood flooded Congress in 2015 after undercover videos emerged exposing that the organization sells aborted baby body parts to biotech firms for profit. Last year, the Department of Justice launched a new investigation into the matter.
Planned Parenthood is the leading provider of abortions in the United States. The organization committed 321,384 abortions in the 2016-2017 fiscal year, according to its annual report.
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