Protecting Women Doesn’t Mean Funding Planned Parenthood

Opinion   |   Bill Saunders and Anna Franzonello   |   May 16, 2012   |   12:30PM   |   Washington, DC

Under the pretext of protecting the Title X “family planning” program, Representative Robert Dold (a self-described “pro-choice” Republican from Illinois) has introduced legislation misleadingly titled “Protecting Women’s Access to Health Care.”

Representative Dold claims his bill—which would prohibit excluding abortion providers from the Title X program—is “critical” for ensuring “nondiscrimination within the federal Title X family planning program.” In reality, the bill only protects the abortion industry’s inappropriate stranglehold on Title X funding, and does not promote women’s health care.

The concern that the abortion industry would misuse or exploit family planning funds predates Roe v. Wade. Since its enactment in 1970, the statutory language of Title X has reflected popular opinion that abortion is not “family planning” and should not be funded at taxpayers’ expense. The program’s funds are explicitly conditioned such that they may not be used “in programs where abortion is a method of family planning.”[1] The legislative history notes the intent of the restriction is to ensure that Title X funding would “be used only to support preventive family planning services, population research, infertility services, and other related medical, informational, and educational activities.”[2] According to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the restriction is one of the “five major provisions of the law.”[3]

In 1988, after having experienced the abortion industry’s interaction with Title X funding, the Secretary of HHS issued new regulations to ensure Title X family planning funds were not subsidizing and promoting abortion. The regulations prohibited Title X projects from engaging in counseling concerning, referrals for, and activities advocating abortion as a method of family planning, and required such projects to maintain an objective integrity and independence from prohibited abortion activities by the use of separate facilities, personnel, and accounting records.[4]

In 1991, the United States Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of these regulations in Rust v. Sullivan, holding that “[w]hen the State appropriates public funds to establish a program it is entitled to define the limits of that program.”[5] Moreover, the regulations were, as the Court noted, “amply justified”:

The Secretary explained that the regulations are a result of his determination, in the wake of the critical reports of the General Accounting Office (GAO) and the Office of the Inspector General (OIG), that prior policy failed to implement properly the statute and that it was necessary to provide “‘clear and operational guidance’ to grantees about how to preserve the distinction between Title X programs and abortion as a method of family planning.” 53 Fed. Reg. 2923-2924 (1988). He also determined that the new regulations are more in keeping with the original intent of the statute, are justified by client experience under the prior policy, and are supported by a shift in attitude against the “elimination of unborn children by abortion.”[6]

(The regulations were reversed under the Clinton Administration in 1993.[7])

In 1988, when the Reagan Administration issued the regulations that were “justified by client experience,” 4.7% of Planned Parenthood’s patients were receiving abortion services. Today Planned Parenthood reports providing abortion services for 12% of its patients.

While abortion has become an increasing part of Planned Parenthood as a whole, the concern is even greater when considering the high volume of abortion patients at some specific Planned Parenthood-affiliated clinics that receive Title X funding. According to the annual report for one Planned Parenthood affiliate, Planned Parenthood of New York City (PPNYC), a Title X recipient,[8] abortion constituted 28 percent of its clinical services in 2008.[9] But even this figure does not give a true sense of scale of abortion at PPNYC. It must be underscored that reporting percentages of “services” (where a pregnancy test is given the same weight as an abortion) is Planned Parenthood’s way of minimizing its number of patients and amount of clinic income related to abortion.[10]

Representative Dold is trying to down-play long-held concerns about providing taxpayer dollars to abortion providers, by casting recent state efforts to ensure taxpayer funding is not being funneled to abortion providers as “discrimination” based “simply” on the fact that these providers “separately offer services beyond the scope of Title X.” Setting aside Representative Dold’s euphemistic glossing over of abortion, the intentional destruction of human life, as “services beyond the [program’s] scope,” our look above at Planned Parenthood, which is currently the nation’s largest abortion provider as well as its largest recipient of Title X funding, demonstrates that there is a heightened need to enact regulations and/or legislation to ensure compliance with the spirit of Title X’s restriction that abortion not be subsidized or promoted through the family planning program.

Additionally, women benefit when the abortion industry is not the beneficiary of health care and “family planning” funds. For example, according to former Texas clinic director Abby Johnson, Planned Parenthood’s internal surveys show that approximately 70% of women who visit their clinics do not follow up with referrals to other medical facilities to have other important health needs addressed. Therefore, women are better served when government healthcare and “family planning” funding is directed to comprehensive health care facilities which can address the broad array of health issues that Planned Parenthood clinics are not equipped to handle.



Representative Dold’s bill goes in the wrong direction. In order to truly advance women’s health and to protect taxpayer dollars, Americans United for Life has developed model legislation for the states, “The Defunding the Abortion Industry and Advancing Women’s Health Act of 2012.”


[1] 42 U.S.C. § 300a-6 (current through Pub. L. No. 112-6 (2011).

2 H.R. Conf. Rep. No. 91-1667, p. 8 (1970).

3 See U.S. Dep’t of Health & Human Servs., Office of Population Affairs, Policy and Planning: Title X Statute and Regulations, available at (last visited May 16, 2012).

4 42 C.F.R. §§ 59.2, 59.8, 59.9, 59.10 (1988).

5 500 U.S. 173, 194 (1991).

6 Id. at187.

7 President William J. Clinton, Memorandum for the Sec’y of Health & Human Servs., filed with the Office of the Fed. Register, Memorandum on the Title X “Gag Rule” (Jan. 22, 1993), available at (last visited May 16, 2012).

8 See Region II, available at (last visited May 16, 2012). According to PPNYC’s Form 990 from 2009, the affiliate received over $3 million from the federal government that year. See Planned Parenthood of New York City, Inc., Form 990, available at (last visited May 16, 2012).

9 See The Case for Investigating Planned Parenthood, Appendix III. Planned Parenthood of New York City 2008 Annual Report. (Americans United for Life 2011), available at (last visited May 16, 2012). PPNYC’s 2009 annual report states that abortion is 19 percent of its services. See Planned Parenthood of New York City, Serving our Communities: 2009 Annual Report, available at (last visited May 16, 2012).

[1]0Abortions are being performed at clinics receiving Title X funds. The Bronx Center PPNYC clinic, Brooklyn Center PPNYC clinic, and Margaret Sanger Center PPNYC clinic, specifically listed as a recipients of Title X funds at the exceedingly abortion-centric Planned Parenthood affiliate, perform both chemical and surgical abortions. See Region II, available at (last visited May 16, 2012). See also Planned Parenthood Fed’n of Am., The Bronx Center—Bronx, NY, available at (last visited May 16, 2012).; Planned Parenthood Fed’n of Am., Boro Hall Center- Brooklyn, NY, available at (last visited May 16, 2012).; Planned Parenthood Fed’n of Am., Margaret Sanger Center- New York, NY, available at!service=abortion (last visited May 16, 2012).