The Trump administration believes they’ve found a way to cut some taxpayer funding that’s being funneled to America’s leading provider of abortion, Planned Parenthood. According to an official who spoke with the Weekly Standard, the administration will propose a rule that would prevent some $260 million annually in Title X funds marked for contraception and other “family planning” initiatives from lining the pockets of abortion providers.
“The proposal would require a bright line of physical as well as financial separation between Title X programs and any program (or facility) where abortion is performed, supported, or referred for as a method of family planning,” an administration official told the Weekly Standard.
Title X explicitly states that “none of the funds appropriated under this title shall be used in programs where abortion is a method of family planning.” However, as the Weekly Standard points out, since Title X was first enacted in 1970, the law has been interpreted to “allow Title X programs to refer patients for abortions, be co-located with abortion clinics, and lobby for pro-abortion policies — so long as federal dollars did not directly fund abortions.”
The Reagan administration attempted to reestablish the separation between Title X programs and abortion providers in 1988, but the new regulation was challeged in court. While the Supreme Court eventually held up the regulation in a 5-4 ruling, it was never enforced. When Bill Clinton won the presidency, he killed the regulation and no succeeding administration has reinstated it. The Trump administration appears poised to do just that.
“Unlike the Reagan regulation, the proposal will not prohibit counseling for clients about abortion, but neither will it include the current, potentially illegal mandate that projects must counsel and refer for abortion,” the administration official told the Weekly Standard. “This proposal does not necessarily defund Planned Parenthood, as long as they’re willing to disentangle taxpayer funds from abortion as a method of family planning, which is required by the Title X law. Any grantees that perform, support, or refer for abortion have a choice – disentangle themselves from abortion or fund their activities with privately raised funds.”
The Weekly Standard notes that if the new regulation goes into effect, Planned Parenthood would still keep “the overwhelming majority of its funding,” which amounts to over $500 million a year.