(CNSNews.com) -- On Feb. 22, the Health and Human Services Department (HHS) issued its final rule on Title X grants to family planning clinics with the clear stipulation that no federal funds will go to facilities that either offer abortion services or make referrals for abortion. This means that Planned Parenthood offices could lose an estimated $60 million in Title X funds.
The Title X grant program, established in 1970, provides funds to family planning offices around the country that serve low-income Americans, about 4 million people a year. The program currently disperses $286 million a year.
"[F]rom the start, Congress was clear that Title X funds cannot be used to support abortion," said the HHS in a Fact Sheet on the new rule. However, over the years, Planned Parenthood offices that perform abortions or make referrals for abortion have received Title X grants for their "family planning" services. The new rule would require abortion facilities to be physically and financially separate from family planning offices.
As HHS explains, the final rule -- also known as the Protect Life Rule in the Reagan administration -- requires "clear financial and physical separation between Title X funded projects and programs or facilities where abortion is a method of family planning."
In addition, the final rule prohibits "referral for abortion as a method of family planning. [It] does not bar nondirective counseling on abortion, but eliminates the requirement that Title X providers offer abortion counseling and referral."
Also, the rule "ensures conscience protections for Title X health providers by eliminating the requirement for providers to counsel on and refer for abortion." The rule goes into effect in 60 days from the day it was published in the Federal Register.
"We thank President Trump for taking decisive action to disentangle taxpayers from the big abortion industry led by Planned Parenthood,” said Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser on Friday. “The Protect Life Rule does not cut family planning funding by a single dime, and instead directs tax dollars to entities that provide healthcare to women but do not perform abortions."
"The Title X program was not intended to be a slush fund for abortion businesses like Planned Parenthood, which violently ends the lives of more than 332,000 unborn babies a year and receives almost $60 million a year in Title X taxpayer dollars," said Dannenfelser. "We thank President Trump and Secretary Azar for ensuring that the Title X program is truly about funding family planning, not abortion.”
Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, said in a Feb. 22 statement, "The finalized 'protect life rule' draws a bright line between abortion and family planning programs -- just as the federal law requires and the Supreme Court has upheld."
"Planned Parenthood and other abortion centers will now have to choose between dropping their abortion services from any location that gets Title X dollars and moving those abortion operations offsite," said Perkins. "Either way, this will loosen the group's hold on tens of millions of tax dollars."
Planned Parenthood criticized the final rule as a "gag rule" that prevents health-care providers from providing complete family planning information to patients.
"The administration has put health care providers like Planned Parenthood in an impossible position: withhold information from patients or get pushed out of a program designed to ensure that people struggling to make ends meet can still access birth control, STI testing, cancer screenings, and other essential reproductive health care," said the organization in a statement. "Planned Parenthood serves 41 percent (1.6 million) of the 4 million people in the Title X program; this rule leaves their health, rights, and lives hanging in the balance."
Planned Parenthood President Dr. Leana Wen said, "The gag rule is unconscionable and unethical. ... Patients expect their doctors to speak honestly with them, to answer their questions, to help them in their time of need. ... Reproductive health care is health care and health care is a basic human right."
Jeanne Mancini, president of the March for Life, said in a statement, "“It is absolutely appropriate that the new Title X regulations take into account the difference between abortion and healthcare. Abortion is neither healthcare nor family planning which is why the Title X program has no business funding it."
"[T]he new regulation protects low-income women who rely on Title X assistance because no funds will be cut from the program," said Mancini. "In fact, those women in need will receive services at federally qualified health centers (FQHC) which outnumber abortion centers 20:1."
"At FQHC’s women benefit from better regulatory oversight, a wider range of services, and more life-affirming options," she said. "The new Title X regulations are a win-win for all Americans.”