The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services finalized its “Protect Life” rule for the Title X family planning program. The rule is expected to defund Planned Parenthood and other abortion provider of millions of taxpayer dollars.

The original law establishing Title X in 1970 read, “None of the funds appropriated under this title shall be used in programs where abortion is a method of family planning.”

Title X recipients were later allowed to provide abortion referrals, lobby for abortion, and even be located in the same facility as an abortion clinic through a broad interpretation of the law provided taxpayer money did not directly fund abortions. In 1988, the Reagan administration implemented rules that reversed that trend. The “Reagan Rules” were upheld by the Supreme Court in 1991 in Rust v. Sullivan. President Bill Clinton rescinded the rules in 1993 upon taking office. Under the Clinton administration, Title X recipients were required to provide abortion counseling.

The rule introduced by President Trump is similar to the “Reagan rules” and require physical and financial separation between Title X recipients and abortion providers. Under the new regulation, abortion centers cannot serve as Title X family planning centers, and recipients cannot refer for abortion. The rule repeals Clinton-era regulations that require abortion counseling and instead makes this optional.

While the rule makes it more difficult, Planned Parenthood could still receive Title X funding if they detangle their family planning services from their abortion services. Also, Planned Parenthood still gets the bulk of its taxpayer funding through Medicaid which can only be stopped by Congress, something they have failed to do.

Pro-life groups praise the move.

“A promise made is a promise kept with this president. Today’s move to redirect Title X funds away from abortion giants like Planned Parenthood is a huge win for life. This rule change will help to close the loopholes that abortionists use to siphon funding from the federal government. It is also a huge win for women’s health care, as these funds will now be directed toward health care facilities that actually focus on women’s health, rather than the destruction of life,” Terry Schilling, executive director of the American Principles Project, said in a released statement.

“Additionally, this rule reverses the radical progressive mandate forcing any individual assisting pregnant women to provide referrals for abortion and potentially violate their conscience in the process. This Orwellian statute goes against everything we believe in as Americans and we’re glad to see it gone,” he said.

“Finally, we are delighted to see that this rule will help to encourage meaningful family communication when a child seeks family planning services. In recent years, the State has sought to drive a wedge between parents and children, trying to circumvent the parents even in very intimate decisions in which parents have a right to be involved,” Schilling added.

“We thank President Trump for taking decisive action to disentangle taxpayers from the big abortion industry led by Planned Parenthood,” said SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser. “The Protect Life Rule does not cut family planning funding by a single dime, and instead directs tax dollars to entities that provide healthcare to women but do not perform abortions. The Title X program was not intended to be a slush fund for abortion businesses like Planned Parenthood, which violently ends the lives of more than 332,000 unborn babies a year and receives almost $60 million a year in Title X taxpayer dollars. We thank President Trump and Secretary Azar for ensuring that the Title X program is truly about funding family planning, not abortion.”

A Marist poll in January found that a majority of all Americans oppose any taxpayer funding of abortion (54 percent to 39 percent).

Photo Credit: Sarah Stierch (CC BY 4.0)

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