WASHINGTON (ChurchMilitant.com) - The federal government is proposing removing federal tax dollars from Planned Parenthood, and is seeking the public's opinion on its proposed rule.
In May, when President Trump spoke at the Susan B. Anthony List (SBA List) Gala, he introduced the Protect Life Rule that would stop all federal money from the Title X family planning program from going to organizations that perform abortions. Last week, the federal government opened the mandatory 60-day public commenting period before legislative discussions to adopt the rule.
Father Stephen Imbarrato of Priests for Life calls this "a good and proper first step to totally defunding the abortion industry."
Eric Scheidler, executive director of Pro-Life Action League, told Church Militant, "Planned Parenthood likes to pretend that low-income women depend on them for health care, but that's simply untrue." He explained that they offer mostly contraception and abortion services, while only providing about one percent of all STD testings and less than one percent of all Pap tests.
Title X was passed in 1970 and was aimed at providing government grants to public or nonprofit entities to establish and operate family planning projects, "including natural family planning methods, infertility services and services for adolescents." The program was never intended to be used to fund abortion.
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) explained that the new rule is needed because there is not sufficient guidance to ensure funding is not used to encourage or promote abortion as a method of family planning.
Scheidler said that the $60 million Planned Parenthood would be stripped of "would go to healthcare providers that offer a wider range of services and a higher standard of care." He added, "This could include pregnancy resource centers and abstinence programs."
Mallory Quigley, vice president of communications for Susan B. Anthony List, told Church Militant, "The Protect Life Rule directs tax dollars to Title X centers that do not provide or perform aboartions — such as the growning number of community and rural health centers that far outnumber Planned Parenthood facilities — without reducing family planning funding by a dime."
"These alternatives offer holistic ppreventative and primary care, not just for women, but for their children, as well as men," Quigley noted. Planned Parenthood often tells women not to bring their children with them to appointments.
In 2016, Title X handed out over $286 million in taxpayer money to 48 states and 43 family planning agencies that provide contraception, testing for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and cancer screenings to almost 3,900 clinics. Planned Parenthood receives about $60 million from Title X grants, representing only about 20 percent of all the federal money they receive.
Father Imbarrato told Church Militant, "Planned Parenthood gets more than this and by all accounts spends all government monies either directly or indirectly to elect pro-abortion candidates."
Quigley said abortion mills can use this funding as a "slush fund" that allows them to pay for rent, electricity, and other overhead costs. "It can also be used for advertising within the community to attract more clients," she said.
A recent poll found 60 percent of Americans oppose taxpayer funding of abortion. Quigley said it's important for all pro-life Americans to submit comments to the HHS: "A large outpouring of public support ensures that the abortion lobby understands the majority of Americans side with President Trump and support the pro-life action taken by the administration."
Scheidler pointed out that stripping Planned Parenthood of its Title X funding would "reduce Planned Parenthood's access to low-income women, who will have to go elsewhere for family planning." He said this could reduce the number of women seeking abortions because "Planned Parenthood will not be able to market abortion to these women."
Susan B. Anthony List agrees, saying, "Research released by the Charlotte Lozier Institute in 2018 shows Planned Parenthood has inflated the U.S. abortion rate, controlling more than 35 percent of the abortion industry and resulting in more than three million 'extra' abortions that could have been avoided."
Quigley noted that Planned Parenthood's annual report show that "despite the increase in taxpayer funding, the only thing not to decline at Planned Parenthood is the number of abortions they do."
"To fully defund Planned Parenthood of all federal money would require legislation," Scheidler explains. He said the November general election could provide enough votes in the Senate to look at "making Planned Parenthood ineligible for Medicaid funds, which would be a dramatic pro-life victory — and very bad for Planned Parenthood."
"There is no need to justify withholding such funds," Dr. Monica Miller, national director of Citizens for a Pro-Life Society, said. "One red cent of taxpayer money should never be granted to any group that fails to respect life."
"No other argument need be given and Planned Parenthood is the flagship when it comes to carrying the blood of the unborn," Miller said.
Quigley noted that their "working to-do list" in the pro-life movement mirrors Trumps's campaign promises: "appointing only pro-life Supreme Court nominees, to defund Planned Parenthood ... to protect the Hyde Amendment, and to advance and sign into law the Pan-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act — which would end abortion after five months."
"This is not about the pro-life movement," Fr. Imbarrato clarified. "It's about babies and moms."
The commenting period runs to July 31. Pro-lifers are asked to weigh in before the period closes.