UPDATE: The rule change has been formally proposed. We'll have further analysis next week after Memorial Day. Here's the full proposed rule.
Late last week President Trump announced that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Department will be introducing a policy that will remove Title X family planning tax funding from health-care providers that perform or refer women for abortions, shifting it to providers that don't.
Known as the "Protect Life Rule," this policy has yet to be officially written down and proposed through the federal government's rule-making process. While we don't have the fine-print details yet (and enforcement is always a challenge), this policy is another high-profile demonstration that the Trump Administration is committed to making sure that no federal tax dollars fund abortion.
This is not the first time a policy like this has been proposed. President Reagan proposed something similar while he was in office. Just like now, pro-abortionists were clamoring that the policy will hurt women. A judicial challenge to the Reagan-era policy reached the U.S. Supreme Court, where in 1991 the court ruled in favor of the legality of Reagan’s policy in Rust v. Sullivan. Unfortunately the incoming pro-abortion Clinton Administration quickly dropped the rule.
Both the Reagan-era rule and the Protect Life Rule have similar language and goals, which could be helpful if the new policy is challenged in court. Even more importantly, Justice Anthony Kennedy was on the Supreme Court when they made the 1991 decision in Rust v. Sullivan—the likely swing vote in this case has already spoken.
Title X Family Planning Program was created in 1970 to provide grants for family planning and health care to families in need. The law was never written or intended to pay for abortions. Unfortunately poor legal interpretations have resulted in accounting gimmicks being the only separation between tax dollars and abortions, violating the spirit of the law.
The policy change has the abortion industry very upset, because Planned Parenthood receives tens of millions of dollars in Title X funding every year. If the policy goes through as announced and is strictly enforced, some Planned Parenthood affiliates may have to restructure or even close due to their dependence on both abortion income and tax funding hand-in-hand.
While Planned Parenthood and others may claim women are at risk, not a single penny of Title X money will be cut. The only thing at risk is Planned Parenthood's profit margin, which often exceeds the amount of Title X funding they receive in a year.
Stopping our tax dollars from helping to pay for abortions has long been the goal of the prolife movement, because we are firmly committed to conscience rights. This policy could make a significant dent in the hundreds of millions of dollars that Planned Parenthood receives every year out of your pocket, courtesy of the IRS.
Abortion is not healthcare and tax dollars meant for health care shouldn't be wasted on ending lives, directly or indirectly.