On Friday, President Trump blew up headlines on both liberal and conservative news sites by announcing a proposed “Protect Life Rule” rule filed with the Office of Management and Budget that would cut Planned Parenthood and other abortion provider’s access to Title X funding unless it separates abortion from the other services that it claims to provide.
“Unlike the Reagan regulation, the proposal will not prohibit counseling for clients about abortion, but neither will it include the current, potentially illegal mandate that projects must counsel and refer for abortion,” an member of the Trump administration said in an interview with the Weekly Standard. “This proposal does not necessarily defund Planned Parenthood, as long as they’re willing to disentangle taxpayer funds from abortion as a method of family planning, which is required by the Title X law. Any grantees that perform, support, or refer for abortion have a choice – disentangle themselves from abortion or fund their activities with privately raised funds.”
Pro-life and conservative groups have been justifiably excited about the move, praising Trump for keeping his campaign promises to defund Planned Parenthood. The Susan B. Anthony List stated in a press release, “The ‘Protect Life Rule’ will fulfill a campaign promise made by President Trump to stop taxpayer funding of abortion businesses like Planned Parenthood… [and] will direct tax dollars to Title X centers that do not promote or perform abortions…. Similar regulations were upheld by the Supreme Court in 1991 in Rust v. Sullivan (500 U.S. 173).”
Planned Parenthood is responsible for committing over 300,000 abortions a year according to their most recent annual reports, so any taxpayer dollars that can be redirected away from the abortion giant are a victory. However, conservatives should be cautious not to settle for anything less than a full defund of Planned Parenthood.
Title X is a federal grant program administered by the Department of Health and Human Services that includes roughly $286 million which it distributes to family healthcare centers. Planned Parenthood receives roughly $50-$60 million of this money.
So while blocking Planned Parenthood’s access to these federal taxpayer dollars is a big victory, it should be remembered that Planned Parenthood receives the majority of its taxpayer funds from Medicaid reimbursements, not Title X. The next step by the Trump administration in accomplishing a full defund of Planned Parenthood should include blocking or redirecting Planned Parenthood’s receipt of Medicaid reimbursements in a similar way in which the Protect Life Rule proposes. The recent filing of this new rule by President Trump builds on the action he took at the beginning of his term to cut funding for international abortion, but there is still much work to be done.
Thus far, the President has consistently delivered on his pro life campaign promises, but conservatives should be careful to not preliminarily celebrate a complete victory while still only seeing a partial and perhaps temporary triumph.