Last week, the Trump Administration enacted the “Protect Life Rule,” which will change Title X regulations to begin the process of taking Planned Parenthood off the taxpayers' payroll.
Under the old Title X family planning program (set up almost 50 years ago to provide low-income women access to family planning services, like birth control), abortion vendors were fattening their bottom lines at taxpayer expense for years—all while trying to convince women that ending a life is merely a method of birth control. Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion vendor, particularly benefitted, garnering up to $60 million annually.
The Trump Administration's new regulations require abortion vendors to be kept “physically and financially separate” from family planning programs, effectively making abortion centers ineligible for taxpayer-funded Title X money if they try to run a family planning program in the same location at which they perform abortions. That means Planned Parenthood can’t use Title X Program funding to pay for the costs of running their abortion centers, though it can set up separate locations exclusively for family planning services. While many rightly object to taxpayer funds going to family planning centers and artificial birth control at all, the “Protect Life Rule” is still laudable for taking a significant step toward defunding Planned Parenthood. Family planning programs should not be run by people who try to profit from abortions when birth control fails and conception occurs.
The new regulations also mandate that abortions cannot be sold as part of other family planning services. Until now, abortion vendors like Planned Parenthood have been able to market their deadly product and book appointments for abortions by using women’s interest in birth control as a segue to making a pitch for killing unborn infants.
Since these rules were enacted on Friday, the abortion industry has been in an uproar, calling it a “Gag Rule” because healthcare workers benefitting from Title X funds are now not allowed to close the sale for abortion. Healthcare workers can still mention abortion, but family planning counselors can’t make the arrangements for the abortion. This is not enough for the abortion industry; selling abortions is its goal. As the Title X family planning program pulls back from abortion vendors, Planned Parenthood will lose resources and a marketing tool.
The abortion lobby has begun claiming that the “Protect Life” Rule will prevent women from getting birth control. This is patently false. Birth control is widely sold and available in Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs), doctor's offices, et al. FQHCs outnumber Planned Parenthood vendors by at least twenty to one, and they offer full-service medical care. Meanwhile, Planned Parenthood has cut back on services they often brag about, like cancer screenings and prevention services. These are down 41 percent, according to their own annual report.
In a poll recently commissioned by my organization, Students for Life of America, we found that by about a three to one margin (48 percent to 17 percent), millennials said they would rather their tax monies go to Federally Qualified Health Centers than to Planned Parenthood. That’s not surprising when you consider how the discredited abortion mega-provider has built a billion-dollar enterprise out of selling abortions and the broken bodies of aborted infants, while consistently cutting back on actual life-affirming services.
Planned Parenthood’s alleged misuse of taxpayer funds has also resulted in multiple investigations due to reports of fraud. In a report from the Charlotte Lozier Institute that examines known external audits of Planned Parenthood financial practices, a pattern of aggressive billing and alleged misuse of taxpayer dollars emerged. The executive summary notes:
These 51 audits found numerous improper practices resulting in significant Title XIX-Medicaid overpayments of more than $8.5 million to Planned Parenthood affiliates for family planning and reproductive health services claims. In combination with the $4.3 million settlement in the Reynolds False Claims Act lawsuit, auditors and investigators have specifically identified Planned Parenthood affiliates as the source of at least $12.8 million in waste, abuse, and potentially fraudulent overbilling and penalties. Former Planned Parenthood employees and others allege many millions more.
Congress should demand a thorough investigation into Planned Parenthood’s possible misuse of taxpayer resources.
But in the meantime, Trump's “Protect Life Rule” is worth celebrating. Defunding Planned Parenthood is a moral imperative, complicated by the ways in which the nation’s number one abortion vendor has infiltrated government programs. The Trump Administration's changes to Title X are a good start in directing scarce taxpayer resources away from an enterprise sustained by abortion profits.
Kristan Hawkins is president of Students for Life of America, with more than 1,220 groups on college, university, and high school campuses in all 50 states. Follow her @KristanHawkins