04.14.21

Lankford Joins More Than 100 Members of Congress to Oppose Expanding Funding for Abortion Providers

WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) joined Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and Representatives Ron Estes (R-KS) and Virginia Foxx (R-NC), along with more than a hundred of their colleagues, to send a letter to President Biden and Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Becerra following their decision to expand funding for providers of abortion on demand under Title X.

Today, the Biden Administration announced new proposed rules that would replace the Protect Life Rule issued by President Trump, which ensured that abortion providers remained physically and financially separate from Title X grantees. President Biden’s proposed rule will once again allow abortion clinics, including Planned Parenthood, which did not participate in the program under the Protect Life Rule, to receive Title X Family Planning funding, despite federal law prohibiting abortion being used as a method of family planning in Title X programs. The proposed rule will set aside the purpose of the program, to provide healthcare services to low-income individuals, as well as the conscience rights of participants who have objections to referring for abortions, just to ensure that Planned Parenthood can get even more federal funding.  

Lankford continues to take action against abortion providers like Planned Parenthood from receiving federal funding. He recently reintroduced the bicameral Women’s Public Health and Safety Act, which gives states the authority to exclude abortion providers, like Planned Parenthood, from receiving Medicaid funds. He also sponsors the Conscience Protection Act, which would provide permanent protections for healthcare providers that decline to participate in abortions. He also introduced several amendments to the recent COVID reconciliation bill in an attempt to make it comply with the long-standing Hyde amendment. Although one amendment was voted on, it was not agreed to by the full Senate.  

President Biden is Expanding Abortion on Demand

We write to express our serious concern regarding your executive memo to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the subsequent March 18th decision to suspend and revise the Compliance With Statutory Program Integrity Requirements rule (Protect Life Rule) finalized March 3, 2019… Created by Congress in 1970, Title X of the Public Health Service Act authorized taxpayer funds to assist “voluntary family planning projects.” The Title X statute clearly intended to prohibit federal funds from being used “in programs where abortion is a method of family planning.” 

The Biden Administration Has No Qualms about Breaking Federal Law to Funnel Taxpayer Funds to Liberal Donors Like Planned Parenthood

The Protect Life Rule is necessary to maintain the bright line drawn in the original authorizing statute between family planning and abortion… If reinstated the previous regulation will be in direct violation of standing law.

Planned Parenthood Has a History of Turning a Blind Eye to Child Abuse and Has Been a Major Recipient of Title X Funding

Additionally, the Protect Life Rule addressed a growing concern about the lack of action previous Title X recipients took on behalf of women and children experiencing abuse. For instance, in 2019, a report compiled several court cases, state health department reports and testimonies from former Planned Parenthood employees, who highlighted multiple incidents where the organization failed to report suspected abuse. Planned Parenthood had been a major recipient of Title X funding, receiving $170 million through the Title X program between 2013 and 2015.

The Biden Administration is Stripping Protections for Women and Children Victimized by Sexual Abuse and Violence

The final Protect Life Rule implemented a stronger focus to protect women and children from being victimized by child abuse, sexual abuse, rape, incest, intimate partner violence and trafficking. If you choose to rescind the Protect Life Rule, you will strip away these much-needed updates to ensure that Title X grantees participate in annual staff education and maintain site-specific protocol to aid victims and report suspected crimes.

You can read the full letter HERE or below.

Dear President Biden,

We write to express our serious concern regarding your executive memo to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the subsequent March 18th decision to suspend and revise the Compliance With Statutory Program Integrity Requirements rule (Protect Life Rule) finalized March 3, 2019.

Created by Congress in 1970, Title X of the Public Health Service Act authorized taxpayer funds to assist “voluntary family planning projects.” The Title X statute clearly intended to prohibit federal funds from being used “in programs where abortion is a method of family planning.” 

The Protect Life Rule fulfills the spirit and letter of this decades-old law by separating abortion from family planning. It does not cut any funding for family planning services: it merely directs taxpayer funds to family planning providers who are not in the business of abortion. The Protect Life Rule is necessary to maintain the bright line drawn in the original authorizing statute between family planning and abortion. Previously, under the Clinton era regulations, all Title X grantees were required to refer for abortion. Additionally, the 2000 regulation was in direct violation of the Weldon Amendment that explicitly protects entities from discrimination based on their not providing, paying for, providing coverage of, or referring for abortion. Not only did this run counter to the program’s statutory prohibition on funding programs, but it discouraged program applicants who do not consider abortion to be a method of family planning from participating in the program. If reinstated the previous regulation will be in direct violation of standing law.

Without the Protect Life Rule, the separation between abortion and family planning is blurred by permitting Title X clinics to be “co-located” within the same facility as an entity that provides abortion. These arrangements raise concerns about the program’s integrity. To ensure that federally funded family planning services offered by Title X grant recipients are unquestionably separate and distinct from abortion, Title X service sites should be physically, as well as financially, separate.

Additionally, the Protect Life Rule addressed a growing concern about the lack of action previous Title X recipients took on behalf of women and children experiencing abuse. For instance, in 2019, a report compiled several court cases, state health department reports and testimonies from former Planned Parenthood employees, who highlighted multiple incidents where the organization failed to report suspected abuse. Planned Parenthood had been a major recipient of Title X funding, receiving $170 million through the Title X program between 2013 and 2015. The final Protect Life Rule implemented a stronger focus to protect women and children from being victimized by child abuse, sexual abuse, rape, incest, intimate partner violence and trafficking. If you choose to rescind the Protect Life Rule, you will strip away these much-needed updates to ensure that Title X grantees participate in annual staff education and maintain site-specific protocol to aid victims and report suspected crimes. This language includes parental engagement and communication in family planning without compromising doctor-patient confidentiality.

Lastly, the Protect Life Rule allows states that receive Title X grants to prioritize funding according to the needs of their citizens and increase patient access. After years without reform, the new rule updated and expanded the review and scoring criteria for grant applications. Combined with the removal of the abortion referral mandate, this increases the potential for diversity as some providers that otherwise would not apply for Title X funds can do so with no abortion counseling mandate in place.

These critical reforms were not without precedent. In 1991, the Supreme Court upheld the Reagan Administration’s Title X regulations to set a standard of compliance with the statutory requirement that no funds appropriated under Title X may be used in programs where abortion is a method of family planning.  Those regulations required, in part, the physical separation of abortion activities from Title X sites and did not permit grantees to make abortion referrals. The Protect Life Rule contained these similar provisions which were upheld again by the Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals on February 4, 2020.

A decision to rescind the Protect Life Rule would not only damage the integrity of Title X, but reverse needed reforms that allowed this program to work for all Americans. We urge you to retain the Protect Life Rule to ensure that Title X funding does not go to programs that support abortion as a method of family planning and protects women and children under their care.

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