By Aaron Earls
Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers will lose federal funding due to changes set to be announced by the White House on Friday (May 18).
Speaking to The New York Times, a White House official said the policy change would require a “bright line of physical as well as financial separation” between programs that receive federal funding and those that perform abortions.
I'm told this regulation will NOT prohibit all counseling about abortion. But it will require "physical as well as financial separation" from facilities providing abortions and Title X recipients.
— Sarah McCammon NPR (@sarahmccammon) May 18, 2018
The proposed rule change from the Health and Human Services Department will drop a requirement that Title X grant recipients provide abortion counseling, but it will stop short of initiating a gag rule that prohibits recipients from discussing abortion, according to NBC News.
Pro-life advocates voiced their support for the new regulations called the “Protect Life Rule.”
“We thank President Trump for taking action to disentangle taxpayers from the abortion business,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List.
“The Protect Life Rule doesn’t cut a single dime from family planning. It instead directs tax dollars to Title X centers that do not promote or perform abortions, such as the growing number of community and rural health centers that far outnumber Planned Parenthood facilities.”
Russell Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, said he welcomes the announcement as it draws a distinction between family planning and abortion.
“This is a critical point to make,” he said, “because the facts are clear: without abortion, there would be no Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood is not a ‘health care’ organization, but a storefront for an industry that devalues human life and exploits families and communities.”
The changes are actually a reversion to regulations put in place by President Ronald Reagan in 1988. At the time, Planned Parenthood and other organizations immediately sued to block the rules from being implemented, according to The New York Times.
In 1991, the Supreme Court ruled the regulations could be enacted, but they were never fully carried out and President Bill Clinton rescinded them in 1994.
“We know Planned Parenthood will do everything in its power to maneuver around this rule, even if enacted,” said Moore. “That being the case, we will continue to call upon Congress to take legislative action, and we will not stop until abortion is no longer supported with even a penny of taxpayer funds.”
Early this month, the ACLU sued the Health and Human Services Department over an expansion of Title X grants to include abstinence education and natural family planning. Additional lawsuits are expected as a result of the most recent changes.
However, preventing federal funding from going toward abortion enjoys broad public support. A recent Marist poll found 60 percent of American adults oppose using tax dollars to pay for abortions. That includes 40 percent of those who call themselves pro-choice.
The same survey found a majority of Americans (54 percent) don’t think doctors, nurses, or organizations with moral objections to abortion should be legally required to perform or provide insurance coverage for abortions.
Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of Planned Parenthood, told The New York Times the new policy is “designed to make it impossible for millions of patients to get birth control or preventative care from reproductive health care providers like Planned Parenthood.”
But Rachel Bovard of the Conservative Partnership Institute notes that while the changes could repeal $286 million from organizations like Planned Parenthood, they still receive $400 million from Medicaid.
She also points out that Planned Parenthood, a nonprofit organization, has revenues of $98.5 million and assets of $1.6 billion.
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AARON EARLS (@WardrobeDoor) is online editor of Facts & Trends.