The Trump administration is attempting to enforce a federal rule created in 1970 that prohibits taxpayer dollars from funding abortion. Twenty states and Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider, are now suing the administration for attempting to enforce the nearly 50-year-old law.
Called the Protect Life Rule, it prohibits the use of federal Title X money “to perform, promote, refer for, or support abortion as a method of family planning.”
It specifies: “none of the funds appropriated under this title shall be used in programs where abortion is a method of family planning.”
Title X was created in 1970. After Roe v. Wade and toward the end of President Ronald Reagan’s last term, the Department of Health and Human Services introduced a Title X policy to enforce the distinction between family planning and abortion. The rule was challenged in court and was ultimately upheld by the Supreme Court in Rust v. Sullivan during the Clinton Administration.
Despite the court’s ruling, former presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama did not enforce Title X’s stipulations. The Trump administration’s rule change is an attempt to do so.
The rule change stipulates that recipients of Title X funds will no longer be allowed to provide abortion services in the same facilities that house their Title X family planning programs. It also removes the requirement that federally funded family planning clinics offer abortion counseling and referrals.
As a result, abortion providers could lose their Title X funding unless they financially and physically separate their abortion operations from the rest of their business operations.
California was the first state to sue, followed by 19 additional states and the District of Columbia.
Xavier Becerra, California’s attorney general, said he is suing to “stand up for a woman’s right to make her own health-care decision about her own body” and claimed that the policy will “result in clinics going out of business due to financial strain.”
Planned Parenthood, joined by the American Medical Association, the Oregon Medical Association, local Planned Parenthood affiliates, and two individual health-care providers, also filed suit in Oregon. Its suit alleges, “The Final Rule would radically alter and decimate the family-planning-assistance program established by Title X ... with severe and irreparable public health consequences across the United States.”
According to Planned Parenthood’s most recent annual report, its facilities conducted more than 332,000 abortions last fiscal year, accounting for more than one-third of the estimated annual abortions in the U.S. It also receives a minimum of $500 million in federal funds annually through Medicaid reimbursements.
Jason J. McGuire, executive director of New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms (NYCF), supports enforcement of the rule.
“This rule gives abortion providers a fair choice: Separate your abortion activities from your federally-funded family planning programs or stop receiving federal funds," McGuire said. "American tax dollars should not be used to support abortion.”
According to the nonprofit pro-life organization, Susan B. Anthony List, less than 500 of the roughly 4,000 Title X service locations in the U.S. are Planned Parenthood facilities. Federally qualified health-care centers that provide a variety of health-care services without performing abortions outnumber Planned Parenthood facilities by 20 to one, the nonprofit states. Planned Parenthood would stand to lose about $60 million if it no longer received Title X funds.