Last Friday, the Trump administration announced its new Protect Life Rule. These new HHS regulations will insure that Title X Family Planning Funds will no longer go to organizations that perform or promote abortions. As the nation’s largest abortion business, Planned Parenthood is poised to lose the $50 to $60 million it receives annually in Title X funds – its second largest source of taxpayer funding.
Contrary to some media reports, these new regulations will not reduce funding for family planning programs. They will instead redirect this funding to more than 9,000 Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) around the country, as well as community health centers, non-profit clinics, state and county health departments, and other alternatives which are more dispersed geographically and which provide more holistic health care services.
These new Title X regulations are good news for women’s health care and a significant win for pro-lifers. Even though Title X funds did not directly pay for abortions, money is fungible and these funds subsidized abortion procedures indirectly. Reducing taxpayer funding to Planned Parenthood and other abortion businesses has been a major pro-life policy goal because, to put it simply, Big Abortion needs big government.
Some history is instructive. The U.S. abortion rate increased sharply in the year immediately following the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. There are a variety of reasons for this, but one important factor is that for most of the mid-to-late 1970s, abortions for low-income women were subsidized by tax dollars via Medicaid.
During this time, pro-lifers shrewdly realized that they had to take steps to redirect taxpayer funding from Big Abortion. In 1976 Congress passed the Hyde Amendment, which placed strict limits on the federal government’s ability to use tax dollars to pay for abortion through Medicaid. After years of litigation, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Hyde Amendment in Harris v. McRae in 1980.
Partly as a result of this important policy, the U.S. abortion rate has consistently fallen. In fact, in 2014, the most recent year for which we have data, the U.S. abortion rate was half of what it was in 1980. The Hyde Amendment has played a key role in that decline. There is a broad body of research which shows that cutting funding for abortion reduces abortion rates. Furthermore, my 2016 analysis of the Hyde Amendment which was published by the Charlotte Lozier Institute indicates that the Hyde Amendment saves 60,000 lives every year, adding up to more than two million lives overall.
Planned Parenthood is well aware of their dependence on taxpayer dollars. When the Protect Life Rule was announced, they and their allies in the mainstream media put on a full court press. They tried to argue that defunding Planned Parenthood would deny women access to health care. Again, the Protect Life Rule would simply redirect Title X funds to alternative providers that vastly outnumber Planned Parenthood facilities.
Similarly, Planned Parenthood’s allies have frequently used misleading statistics to claim that the end of taxpayer funding of Planned Parenthood in Texas in 2011 caused a public health crisis in the Lone Star State. However, despite plenty of media reports to the contrary, many public health trends in Texas are positive. Since 2011, births to minor girls have fallen by more than 30 percent. Abortions performed on minor girls have decreased by over 45 percent. There is no evidence of an increase in the unintended pregnancy rate. In fact, the Lone Star State clearly shows that positive public health outcomes are possible without taxpayer funding for Planned Parenthood.
Planned Parenthood aborts over 320,000 innocent preborn children every year. Furthermore, they have engaged in a considerable amount of misconduct. Evidence shows that Planned Parenthood has failed to report cases of statutory rape and helped minors circumvent state pro-life parental involvement laws designed to protect vulnerable children. There is evidence from 11 states that Planned Parenthood affiliates have overbilled state Medicaid programs, costing taxpayers millions of dollars. Tragically, taxpayers currently are forced to finance this misconduct to the tune of approximately $1.5 million every day. The Trump Administration’s Protect Life Act is a key step toward eliminating all taxpayer funding of organizations that profit from abortion.
LifeNews Note: Michael J. New is an Associate Professor of Economics at Ave Maria University and an Associate Scholar at the Charlotte Lozier Institute. He is a former political science professor at the University of Michigan–Dearborn and holds a Ph.D. from Stanford University. He is a fellow at Witherspoon Institute in Princeton, New Jersey.