The Trump administration finalized a rule today that effectively defunds Planned Parnethood of roughly $50-$60 million in annual taxpayer funding through Title X.
The new Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) rule bars facilities and programs that perform abortions or offer abortion referrals from receiving taxpayer funding under the Title X family planning program. 266 Planned Parenthood abortion centers previously received Title X funding. They were formerly allowed to receive the funding as long as they kept it separate from abortion operations. But money is fungible, and a dollar received for other programs frees up a dollar to be used on abortions.
Under this new rule, the government funding will now be redirected away from abortion providers and towards federally qualified comprehensive health care centers. Planned Parenthood locations that want to receive Title X dollars can continue doing so if they stop performing abortions, which they are virtually guaranteed not to do since abortion is Planned Parenthood’s largest cash cow (other than taxpayer dollars).
The new rule requires “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,” according to a Trump administration official speaking in The Weekly Standard when the rule was first proposed last May.
In 1988, President Ronald Reagan’s administration issued a very similar rule. Planned Parenthood sued and won an injunction while the case worked its way through the courts. It reached the Supreme Court in 1991, and the court upheld the regulation by a vote of 5-4 in Rust v. Sullivan. By that point, George H.W. Bush was president. After the court decision came down, the Democrat-controlled Congress passed an amendment prohibiting the Bush administration from enforcing the regulation. Bush vetoed the amendment, and House Democrats came 10 votes short of the two-thirds majority needed to override the veto. However, a federal court ruled that the Bush administration’s implementation of the regulation was improper. By that point, Bill Clinton had been elected and the rule never took full effect. But the Supreme Court precedent still stands.
The new rule will cut around $50-60 million in annual taxpayer funding to Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers. Planned Parenthood currently receives over $500 million per year in taxpayer dollars, so losing roughly ten percent is not crippling. But this is the first successful effort in years to cut any taxpayer funding from the abortion giant, which performs over 300,000 abortions a year.
Abortion supporters are apoplectic at the news. Rather than comply with the rule and continue to receive the money, Planned Parenthood is likely to sue to stop it. But with a Supreme Court precedent already in place, they are unlikely to prevail.
Photo Credit: Sarah Stierch (CC BY 4.0)