Friday, June 1, 2018

What President Trump's Title X rule change really means

The Trump Administration's proposed changes to the federal Title X family planning program substantially protects against our tax dollars being used in any abortion-related activities.

The Title X program was designed to provide low income people with preventative family planning services. It clearly stated that monies were not to be used on programs that “promote abortion as a method of family planning.”

However, pro-abortion officials have loosely interpreted the law over the years, allowing abortion providers like Planned Parenthood to receive family planning dollars while only using clever accounting to separate abortion from our tax dollars. Currently Title X recipients are allowed to share facilities, staff and equipment with abortion clinics.

The proposed rule change will no longer allow abortion providers to receive Title X money, nor will it allow providers who refer for abortions, lobby for abortions or make contributions to abortion related-activities to receive Title X money. The new rule would require separate facilities for Title X and abortion.

The rule extends not only to Title X grantees, but also to their sub-grantees, sub-recipients and even their referral partners. It also stops tax dollars from being laundered into the political process by preventing Title X funding from going to organizations that promote, lobby for, or endorse candidates who espouse abortion as a method of family planning.

The rule would allow a Title X provider to provide non-directive counseling about abortion, but only if requested by the client. The provider would be allowed to distribute a list of referrals, which may include abortion providers, subject to the list also containing other types of service providers including those who do prenatal care. There is an exception for referring for abortion in cases of rape or incest provided the grantee documents in the patient file that statutory requirement for reporting were met.

While most of these details have been reported on extensively, the Trump Administration's proposed rule change does much more than stop Planned Parenthood from breaking the law against funding abortions.

The new rule would substantially increase transparency and reporting. Currently, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services relies on its grantees (usually state health departments) to monitor Title X legal compliance. The sub-grantees in many cases are Planned Parenthood affiliates, who in turn contract with sub-recipients and other agencies. The federal government does not maintain direct oversight of their own program, which is a big problem.

Currently all Title X clinics are required to comply with state and local reporting requirements for child abuse, sexual abuse, sex trafficking etc. The new rule will ensure that documentation of those reports is maintained in the patient’s file so that compliance can actually be verified. Health care workers will be required to conduct a preliminary screening on any teen who presents with a sexually-transmitted infection or pregnancy if he or she is under the age of consent. They will also conduct a screening if there is suspicion of abuse. President Trump's rule change will help combat child abuse, sexual assault, and human trafficking.

Planned Parenthood has a long history of ignoring or even abetting sexual abuse. Not asking the age of the sexual partner to avoid having to report statutory rape will no longer be acceptable. The new rule makes it clear that confidentiality rules are subordinate to reporting requirements. Planned Parenthood never had their own #MeToo moment, despite blatant cases of allowing sexual abuse, rape, and incest to continue.

In addition, the new rule will amend the criteria for grants. It will increase competition and encourage broader and more diverse applicants with priority given to those programs that can demonstrate that they value complying with Title X rules, protecting victims of sexual abuse, and respecting conscience rights.

There are also numerous additional changes that would affect contracts and definitions and allow for better family planning programs than simply shoveling money to Planned Parenthood.

In summary, the Trump Administration's rule change will do the following:
  • Prevent sharing of facility, staff, records, and equipment between abortion providers and Title X programs.
  • Prevent Title X programs from facilitating, promoting, or referring for abortion or sharing space with entities who do.
  • Prevent expenditures of Title X money on events, materials, dues or organizations that promote, lobby for or endorse candidates who espouse abortion as family planning.
  • Require documentation screening for abuse and reports of abuse made to area law enforcement or agencies. Will clarify confidentiality rules so there is no confusion about reporting abuse or failing to ask questions to avoid having to report abuse.
  • Require compliance with Title X rules and documentation from all grantees, sub-grantees, sub-recipients, and substantial referral partners.
  • Provide for substantial conscience protection.
  • Amend regulations to allow contracts in addition to grants, and make the process much more competitive.
  • All aspects of the new rule will be implemented 60 days after approval, except for physical separation of facilities. Abortion providers like Planned Parenthood will be given one year to comply.