NICK EICHER, HOST: Coming up next on The World and Everything in It: significant changes to the Department of Health and Human Services’ Title X program.
For context, think back to March. That’s when Congress agreed to spend $1.3 trillion to keep the federal government running through September. The government was hours away from shutting down and so lawmakers negotiated a deal to prevent that.
And pro-lifers had hoped Republicans would use their power and leverage to deny taxpayer funding to Planned Parenthood. After all, that was a party pledge.
They did not do that back in March and many pro-lifers considered it a betrayal.
Despite control of the House, the Senate, and the White House, they made no serious push to roll back federal funding for the nation’s largest abortion business.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: But in the meantime, the Department of Health and Human Services has been quietly making significant changes to the Title X Family Planning Program.
That’s a program established under President Richard Nixon back in 1970. Planned Parenthood gets its taxpayer subsidy from it. Now, the Trump administration’s changes to Title X could alter that.
WORLD Radio’s Sarah Schweinsberg reports.
SARAH SCHWEINSBERG, REPORTER: In February, the Department of Health and Human Services released a new series of guidelines. They say the department will favor awarding Title X (ten) dollars to medical centers that mention methods that can help women avoid pregnancy without chemical or hormonal contraceptives.
Last week, Planned Parenthood, the National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association, and the American Civil Liberties Union filed two separate lawsuits asking the federal courts to block those changes to the Title X (ten) program.
The groups say the new set of priorities will reduce access to some contraceptive methods, limit sexual education for teens, and lead to more unintended pregnancies. Here’s Tanya Atkins, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin, one of the plaintiffs.
ATKINS: Blocking access to care at Planned Parenthood would have a disproportionate impact on those who already face discriminatory barriers to healthcare such as people of color, people who live in rural areas and people with low-income.
The plaintiff’s also argue the HHS policy was adopted without the proper process for changing federal regulations.
The new criteria are a big deal because HHS will use them to evaluate the next round of Title X grant applications worth a projected $260 million. Those dollars go toward clinics and programs that offer a broad range of family planning methods and services.
Mallory Quigley with the pro-life group Susan B. Anthony List calls the Planned Parenthood lawsuit ridiculous. She says the administration isn’t slashing Title X funding—only making it more widely available.
QUIGLEY: Planned Parenthood is completely on the defense, and this shows that they can’t even bear the thought of other organizations that don’t make abortion a key part of their business model being eligible for this funding. The news for them is that the Title X program is not their own personal slush fund.
Pro-lifers are targeting other Title X changes. Last week, a coalition of groups and close to 200 members of Congress sent letters to the Trump administration asking the president to stop organizations that receive Title X funding from referring women for abortions.
Kansas Republican Representative Ron Estes told EWTN TV this could be an important step in defunding Planned Parenthood.
ESTES: Right now this Title X funding is the second-largest that funds Planned Parenthood for their abortion activities, and, if you go back and look between 2013 and 2016, Planned Parenthood raised over $170 million dollars through this Title X funding, and if we can cut that off making sure that those dollars are used for real healthcare as opposed to abortions.
Susan B. Anthony’s Mallory Quigley says she’s confident President Trump will add the regulation to the Title X program.
QUIGLEY: We fully anticipate that he will keep his promise. You know, this is a campaign promise that he made to cut US taxpayer funding for the nation’s largest abortion business and redirect those monies to community in rural health centers that are already serving women.
Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Sarah Schweinsberg.