The Weekly Standard outlined the Trump administration’s plan to cut some funding from Planned Parenthood using a Reagan-era regulation.
On Friday, the Trump administration will announce a proposed rule to cut taxpayer funding to abortionists like Planned Parenthood under Title X, a program that provides $260 million annually in federal funding for contraception and other “family planning” initiatives.
“The proposal would require a bright line of physical as well as financial separation between Title X programs and any program (or facility) where abortion is performed, supported, or referred for as a method of family planning,” a Trump administration official tells THE WEEKLY STANDARD in an email.
The 1970 law establishing Title X states: “None of the funds appropriated under this title shall be used in programs where abortion is a method of family planning.” But in the 1970s and 1980s, the law was interpreted to allow Title X programs to refer patients for abortions, be co-located with abortion clinics, and lobby for pro-abortion policies—so long as federal dollars did not directly fund abortions. In 1988, President Reagan’s secretary of Health and Human Services issued regulations to end these practices that blurred the line between funding contraception and promoting abortion.
The 1988 Reagan regulation was immediately challenged in court and never enforced, but it was upheld by the Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision in the case Rust v. Sullivan. By the time abortionists might have actually lost their Title X funds, however, Bill Clinton took office and killed the Reagan regulation, a policy that has remained in effect to this day. This anti-abortion regulation wasn’t reinstated by the George W. Bush administration.
“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,” a Trump administration official tells TWS. “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.”
Although this is good news for opponents of Planned Parenthood it isn’t a complete win. Since Planned Parenthood gets its funding from Medicaid it will be able to keep the majority of the money it receives.