In 1970, Congress enacted Title X of the Public Health Service Act that provides federal tax dollars for family planning services. The Act states that grants and contracts under Title X must “be in accordance with such regulations as the Secretary (of Health and Human Services) may promulgate.”
Section 1008 of the Act, passed by a Democrat-controlled Congress, ensures that no taxpayer dollars be “used in programs where abortion is a method of family planning.” It was not until 1988 that the Reagan administration issued “co-location” guidelines. These guidelines were intended to further protect taxpayers from being complicit with the destruction of abortion. They were challenged in court and the Supreme Court ruled in 1991 that the regulations are permissible. However, a few years later President Bill Clinton, a supporter of abortion, removed those same protections.
Earlier this month more than 150 U.S Representatives and 41 Senators sent letters to President Trump’s HHS Secretary Alex Azar to restore the Reagan era rule. The elected officials asked that the new regulations remove the forced abortion referral for Title X grantees but also that they call for a “physical separation of abortion activities from Title X service sites and separate personnel.” The reason for the physical separation is to ensure complete financial separation between American tax dollars and abortion related activities. After all, a majority of American taxpayers oppose taxpayer funding for abortion.
The co-location requirement is in line with the advice that Ivanka Trump, advisor to President Trump, suggested to Cecile Richards, the recently retired president of the billion-dollar organization Planned Parenthood. Trump, who has expressed support of Planned Parenthood, suggested to Richards that the abortion giant separate into two: with a smaller arm to provide abortions and a larger one devoted to women’s health services. For her sage advice, Trump found herself mocked by Richards and called “naïve.”
The suggestion is far from naïve though it possibly underestimated how central abortion is to Planned Parenthood. After all, Planned Parenthood aborted 321,384 babies last year, down from 328,348 babies in the 2015-2016 period. Meanwhile, prenatal services dropped to a new low, according to the organization’s 2016-2017 report.
As for family planning services, which is at the heart of Title X regulations, contraceptive services by Planned Parenthood dropped by nearly 18 percent in just one year, and are down 20 percent since 2010, based on an analysis of Planned Parenthood’s 2014-2015 annual report.
Abortion advocates and Planned Parenthood’s allies will likely try to claim poverty if these regulations are passed. But during the 2013-2014 reporting year, Planned Parenthood reported $127 million in net income and $1.4 billion in held assets. They will likely claim that defunding them will increase the infant mortality rate (this claim was made after Texas defunded the abortion-giant, and was quickly found to be false.)
In addition, abortion advocates will claim that only abortion providers can deliver services to women, yet a recent study by the Charlotte Lozier Institute found that life-affirming community health centers outnumber Planned Parenthood centers 23:1.
During a tough midterm election year, restoring these Reagan-era regulations is a smart move. It will motivate the pro-life base that helped elect Trump. In addition, with so many House and Senate Members taking heat for passing an omnibus that continued funding Planned Parenthood these regulations will fulfill in part the promise those elected officials made to their constituents.
Finally, Planned Parenthood, which spent $38 million in the 2016 campaign, has since vowed to spend $30 million in 2018 to defeat the president’s allies in Congress. I am confident that President Trump will do not only the smart thing but the right thing when it comes to Title X.
LifeNews Note: Tom McClusky is the president of March for Life Action.