In order to best serve the needs of low-income women and their families, the federal government earlier this year refined its criteria for Title X family planning grants.
The purpose of this reform was to attract community-based clinics by expanding the scope of funded services to help meet a broader range of needs.
Unfortunately, Planned Parenthood has been one of Title X’s largest grant recipients for years. Of the nearly $300 million dollars allocated yearly, Planned Parenthood regularly receives between $50-60 million dollars, making Title X funds the second largest source of income for the organization.
Planned Parenthood, unwilling to let go of its oversized share of these grants, ran to court early this month seeking to prevent the implementation of these new reforms. But women deserve more than Planned Parenthood.
The federal government started the Title X Family Planning Program to provide low-income families or uninsured individuals with family planning and related preventative health services. The law authorizing the program directs grants be given “to assist in the establishment and operation of voluntary family planning projects which shall offer a broad range of acceptable and effective family planning methods and services (including natural family planning methods, infertility services, and services for adolescents).” Grant recipients offer services at reduced or no cost to meet the program’s overall purpose of promoting positive birth outcomes and healthy families.
By law, Title X funds cannot be used to pay for abortion services. But nothing prevents these funds from covering overhead and administrative expenses for the country’s largest abortion provider, Planned Parenthood. No matter how creative Planned Parenthood’s accounting is, the dirty business of abortion has greatly benefited from Title X.
The use of Title X funds to essentially subsidize Planned Parenthood’s abortion business has inspired lawmakers and advocacy groups to demand (here, here, and here) that the grants not be awarded to abortion providers like Planned Parenthood. This effort to block Planned Parenthood completely from dipping into Title X is an important step to refocus the program to meet its intended goals.
Earlier this year, Title X grant eligibility criteria were refined to reward applications offering natural family planning, those providing primary healthcare services and family planning services in the same location, and activities promoting abstinence for adolescents. These program priorities are not satisfied in the services offered at Planned Parenthood clinics. Instead, Planned Parenthood has adopted a one-size-fits-all approach to family planning exclusively dependent on artificial means of contraception and disparaging the effectiveness of teen abstinence programs.
Seeing the writing on the wall that they will no longer be competitive applicants for Title X grants, Planned Parenthood offices from three states filed suit in the D.C. district court demanding the old reviewing criteria be kept in place. The group’s complaint asserts that “Title X funds form a significant percentage of Plaintiffs’ budgets and losing those funds would result in multi-million-dollar budget shortfalls.” But Title X is not a welfare program for a Planned Parenthood. Title X is designed to meet the family planning and preventative healthcare needs of low-income women.
For many American women, our choice for comprehensive family planning services involves support for naturally spacing pregnancies. Rather than receive family planning care at an abortion clinic, we want to be cared for at one of the many community-based healthcare centers offering supports and services consistent with our conscience.
It’s high time that Planned Parenthood’s monopoly over federal funding for family planning programs come to an end. Women should have the choice to find support and services for family planning in their community that is consistent with their needs and desires. Women deserve more.
LifeNews Note: Andrea Picciotti-Bayer is Legal Advisor for The Catholic Association Foundation.