New HHS Rules to #defundPP

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has proposed new rules for the federal Title X program, which provides nearly $300 million annually in taxpayer funding for “family planning services.” Planned Parenthood currently receives about one-third of all Title X funding—but the new HHS rules will change that.

Under the new rules, NO Title X funding will be provided to programs where abortion is a method of family planning. This means that Planned Parenthood will no longer get their hands on tens of millions of our money!

Current rules require Title X recipients to refer pregnant women for abortion. The new rules will abolish this provision, which means pro-life pregnancy centers will finally be able to apply for Title X funding. Title X moneys will no longer be funneled directly into the hands of organizations like Planned Parenthood that use taxpayer money to refer women to their own abortion mills.

The rules also require Title X recipients to completely separate their Title X clinics from their abortion mills. Right now, many Planned Parenthood affiliates operate Title X “family planning” services out of the same facilities in which they kill babies. This provision has PP up in arms, because the abortion giant knows it cannot comply with the new rules.

Today, Life Legal submitted the following comment in support of the new HHS rules:

Life Legal Defense Foundation strongly supports the new Title X rules. Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers have been disregarding existing Title X regulations for far too long by failing to separate their Title X funded activities from their highly profitable abortion business. The new rules would help ensure that Title X taxpayer funds are not used to indirectly subsidize abortions. However, we believe the new regulations could—and should—go further by prohibiting any organization that provides abortions at any of its locations from receiving Title X funding.

The federal government has a long-standing policy “against the elimination of unborn children by abortion.” See Rust v. Sullivan, 500 U.S. 173 (1991) at 174. In keeping with this policy, HHS should not only permit but encourage entities that do not refer, provide, or advocate for abortion to apply for Title X funds. Many highly qualified organizations, including faith-based pregnancy resource centers and other clinics, provide prenatal care, STD/STI testing, cancer screening, adolescent abstinence programs, pregnancy counseling, and a wide range of services to low-income women—without eliminating unborn children by abortion.

The Supreme Court, in Rust v. Sullivan, held that “the Government may make a value judgment favoring childbirth over abortion, and implement that judgment by the allocation of public funds.” See Rust v. Sullivan, 500 U.S. 173 (1991) at 174. However, since the inception of Title X, the lion’s share of funding under that program has gone to organizations like Planned Parenthood whose existence is dependent on the provision of abortion services. In fact, Planned Parenthood’s most recent annual report reveals that prenatal care comprises only a minute fraction (.0008%) of its total services. In 2016, Planned Parenthood provided only 7,762 prenatal appointments (it is unclear how many of these were repeat visits), whereas it performed 321,384 abortion procedures. Operating under the current Title X regulations, 100% of Planned Parenthood recipients provide and/or refer for abortion.

This means that the government’s “value judgment favoring childbirth over abortion” currently finds no expression in the Title X program, even though research shows that American taxpayers have become decidedly more pro-life in the 27 years since Rust was decided.

For the past three years, Life Legal has represented David Daleiden and the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) in civil lawsuits filed by Planned Parenthood and the National Abortion Federation after CMP released a series of videos exposing the abortion industry’s role in the illegal trafficking of fetal parts. The videos resulted in the creation of a Select Panel in the House of Representatives to investigate the sale and purchase of baby parts for profit. At the close of its investigation, the panel referred a number of Planned Parenthood affiliates as well as other abortion providers for state and federal criminal prosecution, in part for violating the federal ban on selling fetal tissue. Life Legal has been building on the Select Panel’s investigation in the discovery phase of the Planned Parenthood lawsuit and, as we press the nation’s largest abortion provider for answers, Planned Parenthood is contending that the federal fetal tissue trafficking statute is just a “technical law” and that its affiliates’ lack of compliance with the law is irrelevant.

This should come as no surprise, as Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers routinely skirt state and federal laws governing their practices. It is high time that money from hardworking, largely pro-life taxpayers be redirected to qualified, law-abiding entities that provide life-giving services to women and families.

We strongly encourage HHS to adopt the proposed regulations and to consider issuing further rules prohibiting abortion providers, including Planned Parenthood, from applying for Title X grant funding.