Conservatives and pro-life leaders are urging President Trump to do something bold: unilaterally cut off some of Planned Parenthood’s taxpayer funding. Even though Republicans in Congress have repeatedly failed to deliver on their promises to fully defund Planned Parenthood, pro-lifers are confident that Trump can take this step — because it’s been done before.
Planned Parenthood currently receives $50-60 million per year in taxpayer funding under the Title X family planning program. Most of Planned Parenthood’s taxpayer funding is appropriated by Congress, but the Title X funding is doled out at the discretion of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
A short history lesson is helpful here:
In 1988, President Reagan’s administration issued a regulation barring Title X funds from being used to perform abortions or refer women to them. 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.
Fast forward to this week, when a coalition of 41 U.S. senators and 153 House members sent a letter to Trump and HHS Secretary Alex Azar asking the administration to reinstate the regulation, cutting off Title X funding to Planned Parenthood. A coalition of 90 pro-life groups also sent a letter urging the same.
According to Axios, senior White House advisor Kellyanne Conway met with Trump last week to urge him to cut off the funding. Axios reported that Ivanka Trump, who is pro-abortion, appeared to be responsible for some of the President’s indecision. But numerous other White House staff are pushing Trump to make the move, pointing out that Planned Parenthood spends millions of dollars electing Democrats and that Trump promised to defund the abortion giant.
Planned Parenthood, for their part, is predictably declaring the apocalypse, saying, “This policy is dangerous — it would keep women from having information, and from getting the best health care possible.” This is, of course, not true, since there are 20 comprehensive women’s health care clinics that do not perform abortions for every Planned Parenthood that does.
— Susan B Anthony List (@SBAList) October 14, 2016
While making this move would only cut about 10 percent of Planned Parenthood’s taxpayer funding, it would be a major blow to the organization — which is in disarray — and would be a major boon to the pro-life cause.
Photo credit: American Life League via Flickr, CC BY-NC 2.0