‘The Protect Life Rule doesn’t cut a single dime from family planning…’
(Noam N. Levey, Tribune Washington Bureau, & Paul Chesser, Liberty Headlines) The Trump administration moved Friday to place new restrictions on access to abortion, as the Health and Human Services Department prepared new regulations that would effectively bar organizations that receive federal family planning money from providing abortions or counseling mothers about the procedure.
The much-anticipated proposal — which has not yet been officially issued as a rule — would greatly expand limits on what activities organizations such as abortion service Planned Parenthood can provide.
The organization, which commits more than 300,000 abortions per year, has received $50-$60 million in Title X taxpayer funds annually.
“Title X funding should be appropriated to 3,500 Title X service sites, including state and county health departments, Community Health Centers and non-profit medical clinics across the nation offering 100 percent of their services toward services that comply with the proposed Protect Life Rule,” said Tami Fitzgerald, executive director of the NC Values Coalition.
The administration’s rule will almost certainly will set off a new legal battle over abortion services.
According to the White House, the proposal would require recipients of Title X family planning funds to establish a “bright line of physical as well as financial separation” between federally-funded family planning services and any programs where abortion services are performed or discussed.
“The Protect Life Rule doesn’t cut a single dime from family planning,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List. “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.”
The proposal would expand long-standing restrictions on the use of federal funds.
“Today is a huge victory for the cause of life, as this new rule will ensure that taxpayer dollars go to life-affirming, not life-ending, family planning services,” said Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind.
“There are much better options than allowing Planned Parenthood, America’s largest abortion provider, access to federal funds.”
Currently abortion providers must ensure that no federal money is used to pay for the procedure.
A similar rule during the Reagan administration was challenged, but the Supreme Court upheld it in the 1991 case Rust v. Sullivan.
Many family planning advocates believe that the new rule, if implemented, would make it effectively impossible for counselors to talk freely with pregnant mothers about their options.
“This ‘gag rule’ is not only unconscionable, but it undermines medical ethics by forcing healthcare professionals to withhold accurate and timely medical information from patients,” said Dr. Jenn Conti, a fellow with Physicians for Reproductive Health.
The Susan B. Anthony List — as does the Trump administration — calls that nonsense.
“There is no ‘gag rule.’ Many media outlets are getting this wrong,” the group said in a press release. “The proposal will not prohibit counseling for clients about abortion, but neither will it include the current, potentially illegal mandate that projects must counsel and refer for abortion.”
Abortion opponents have been lobbying hard for new restrictions, pushing the Trump administration to extend the new limits on federal funding.
And the White House on Friday cast the new proposal as the latest in the administration’s moves to fulfull Trump’s campaign promise to restrict access to abortion services.
“The facts are clear: without abortion, there would be no Planned Parenthood,” said Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. “Planned Parenthood is not a ‘healthcare’ organization but a storefront for an industry that devalues human life and exploits families and communities.”