Commentary

Judge Issues Injunction Against Trump Title X Rule That Offers Expectant Mothers Real Choice on Care

By Grazie Christie | May 1, 2019 | 3:40pm EDT
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A federal judge has issued a nationwide injunction against the Trump Administration’s new Title X rule, and Planned Parenthood is calling this a victory for women. But the only winner will be Planned Parenthood. The billion-dollar corporation is worried about the loss of millions of Title X tax-dollars. Women themselves were never threatened by the new rule because the federal family-planning funds were to be redirected to comprehensive-care health clinics instead. In fact, low-income women were the beneficiaries of the new Title X rule, because these comprehensive-care clinics are much more pleasant places to obtain STD checks and cancer screenings than dingy abortion facilities.

Each year, Title X provides about $280 million to low-income Americans for not only contraception but also preventive care such as STD checks, pap smears, and mammograms. As with all federal funds, Title X monies are not supposed to subsidize abortion except in cases of rape or incest or to save a pregnant woman's life. And yet, Planned Parenthood, whose main business is abortion (over 300,000 annually), has been receiving about one quarter of all Title X funding.

This March, the administration revised the rule governing Title X requirements. The new rule is designed to achieve clear separation between Title X funds and abortion by prohibiting grantees from performing abortions at their facilities. In other words, Planned Parenthood abortion clinics would no longer be able to use Title X money to pay for overhead and office costs to “keep the lights on” should the new rule take effect. Under the new rule, if the clinics want to keep receiving Title X funds, they will have to physically and financially separate abortion from contraceptive and preventive health services. They will have to maintain distinct facilities and distinct bank accounts. Although Title X funds are a drop in the bucket for Planned Parenthood – its main government subsidies come through Medicaid – individual clinics do rely on these Title X grants for financial support.

In addition to having to clearly separate their abortion services from Title X activities, Planned Parenthood affiliates across the country learned in April that they would be receiving about $7 million less over the next three years than they had in previous years. Planned Parenthood falsely claims this budget shortfall is putting health care at risk for more than 40,000 patients. But that Title X money was slated instead to go to comprehensive health clinics where low-income Americans already receive a wide range of care, including non-abortive pregnancy care (i.e. prenatal maternal and fetal medicine), STD checks, and cancer screenings. Moreover, taxpayers who don't want to subsidize abortion clinics would be able to breathe a sigh of relief.

As part of the Trump administration's move away from abortion subsidization, the Obria Group received a 2019 Title X grant of $5.1 million over 3 years. Obria is a non-profit that could be called the anti-Planned Parenthood, since it provides comprehensive life affirming healthcare services for low income women but does not do abortions. The administration's new rule allowed groups like Obria to apply for Title X grants by eliminating the requirement that grantees offer abortion counseling and referrals. The rule specifically states that Title X providers no longer must choose “between participating in the program and violating their own consciences by providing abortion counseling and referral.”

These revisions to the Title X grant program, now tied up in court, would have been a positive change for American women, if not for Planned Parenthood. Many low-income women who need financial assistance when it comes to family planning and cancer screening want better and brighter choices than a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic. They deserve professional and cheerful comprehensive healthcare facilities where prenatal care – not just abortion – is an option for expectant mothers. Now that’s real “choice.”

We hope, for the sake of needy women across the country, this matter is resolved quickly and that the new Title X regulation is left intact.

Dr. Grazie Pozo Christie is a Policy Advisor for The Catholic Association.

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