Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the largest abortion provider in the United States, had a total operating budget of over $1.6 billion in 2018. According to their annual report, $563.8 million came from federal taxpayer dollars. These federal funds help offset the operating costs of Planned Parenthood’s abortion clinics.
For decades, through multiple congresses and presidential administrations, the pro-life movement has fought to end, or at least slow, federal tax subsidies for abortion providers — but has failed to do so. Until now.
Last month, the Trump administration enacted the “Protect Life Rule,” which will ensure the enforcement of Congress’s statutory prohibition on funding programs where abortion is a method of family planning. This will cut an estimated $60 million in federal grant funding that offsets the costs of abortion services provided by Planned Parenthood and other providers.
The new regulation restores Congress’s original intent that taxpayer funds not be used to promote or perform abortions under federally-funded family planning programs. The Protect Life Rule says so-called Title X grantees will not be allowed to receive grant funding if they provide abortion services at the same facilities that house Title X family planning programs and removes the requirement that federally-funded family planning clinics offer abortion counseling and referrals. Since 60 percent of Planned Parenthood clinics (266 of 443 service sites) provide abortion and family planning at the same location, they stand to lose millions in Title X funding unless they financially and physically separate their abortion operations from the rest of their business operations.
But, there still is more that the Trump administration can do.
Planned Parenthood received over $50 million of the $286 million Congress appropriated for Title X last year. Expanding the diversity and locations of Title X grantees would reach more women with more comprehensive services. Title X grants are intended to support “federally qualified health centers,” which serve over 21 million low-income Americans in both rural and urban areas with a full range of health services.
By comparison, Planned Parenthood only serves 2.8 million people and doesn’t offer the same range of health services. Women would be better served by these community health centers that outnumber Planned Parenthood clinics by more than 20 to 1 nationwide. There are nearly 10,000 federally qualified health centers, but they have been discouraged from applying for Title X funding because of Planned Parenthood’s near monopoly on funding and its longstanding cozy relationship with HHS.
If Title X is ever to be more than a slush fund for Planned Parenthood, HHS needs to be serious about ensuring that grant awards represent the full panoply of organizations that serve low-income women and which provide them with far more medical services than Planned Parenthood and other abortion businesses will ever do. HHS has a chance to do this under the current grant competition — a lot of people will be watching to see if they take advantage of it or if they continue with the same old.
The administration’s Protect Life Rule is the latest example of a pro-life promise made and kept by President Trump. During the presidential campaign, candidate-Trump pledged to defund Planned Parenthood because of its involvement in promoting and performing abortions, its being implicated in human trafficking, and the serious and credible allegations that it harvests and sells baby organs and body parts.
Now, Trump’s Department of Health and Human Services has a chance to demonstrate that it is more serious about getting low-income women services than it is about continuing its decades long insider relationship with a small group of abortion providers.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.