Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Pro-life advocates call for Title X reform

Yesterday, a coalition of more than 85 anti-abortion organizations, led by the Susan B. Anthony List, sent a letter to Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar, urging HHS to implement rules that disentangle abortion businesses from the Title X grant program. Secular Pro-Life was among the signatories. The letter was also signed by 41 Senators and 153 Representatives.

As we've previously noted, defunding Planned Parenthood is a complicated task in part because Planned Parenthood (and, to a lesser extent, other abortion vendors) takes advantage of multiple taxpayer funding streams. Title X is a family planning grant program that sends $50-60 million to Planned Parenthood each year, which is approximately ten percent of its annual taxpayer funding haul.

That wasn't always the case. During the Reagan administration, HHS required Title X grantees to comply with regulations that created a strong buffer between abortion and tax dollars. An abortion vendor that wanted a Title X family planning grant had to isolate its abortion activities from its legitimate healthcare activities. Specifically, they were required to "maintain an objective integrity and independence from the prohibited abortion activities by the use of separate facilities, personnel, and accounting records." The U.S. Supreme Court upheld this rule in Rust v. Sullivan, which remains good law.

Those regulations were rescinded by President Bill Clinton, but can be revived. Doing so is a relatively simple way to remove taxpayer subsidies of the nation's largest abortion chain.

The Susan B. Anthony List reports that fewer than one eighth of the 4,000+ Title X grantees nationwide are Planned Parenthoods, adding: "The Reagan-era regulations would not decrease funding for Title X by a single penny. Funds would instead be directed to service sites willing to comply." Already, abortion advocates and their media allies are misrepresenting the proposed regulation as a "cut" to Title X.

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