In late February, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced the final implementation of its “Protect Life” rule, which prohibits abortion providers from receiving family planning funds under the federal Title X program. The move showed that, at the national level, the Trump Administration, not Congress, is leading the way on pro-life protections for the unborn.
The rule prohibits the use of Title X money “to perform, promote, refer for, or support abortion as a method of family planning,” also requiring clinics receiving the federal funds to be “physically and financially” separate from any entity providing abortions. HHS explains that the new rule, which must take effect within 60 days, ensures transparency for the legal and ethical use of taxpayer dollars.
Planned Parenthood, which repeatedly claims their Title X funds are not used for abortions, has filed a lawsuit against the White House as they now stand to officially lose federal dollars unless they separate their business operations, per the statute.
A contingent of 21 states including the District of Columbia has joined Planned Parenthood and its affiliates in their suit that alleges the rule “would radically alter and decimate the family-planning-assistance program established by Title X…with severe and irreparable public health consequences across the United States.”
“The Trump Administration continues to chip away at women’s health care and their right to make their own, informed choices when it comes to their bodies,” said Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring (D) in a press release, one of the many progressive attorneys general fighting back against the “Protect Life” rule. “The changes to these regulations would put the health of women across Virginia in danger and undermine the integrity of the doctor-patient relationship. Women should be able to turn to the provider they know and trust when they are making personal decisions about their health.”
The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) is one of two providers in the Commonwealth that will be affected by the Trump Administration’s new abortion restrictions. VDH received $3.6 million from the Title X program this year to provide low-income patients with cervical cancer screenings, birth control, and STD testing at more than 130 locations statewide, WCVE reports.
In 2018, over 14,692 abortions were performed in Virginia, according to VDH.Opponents of the rule say many abortion providers will have no choice but to withdraw from Title X entirely, but the rule states that a clinic does not have to withdraw from funding, only separate “physically and financially” from any entity providing abortions.
The reason Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers are outraged is not due to the potential loss of federal funding – they have gotten around that for years – but the fact that the Trump Administration has drawn a clear distinction between family planning and abortion.