April 14, 2017

Trump rolls back Title X funding protections for health care facilities that provide abortions

Daily Briefing

    President Trump on Thursday signed into law a measure (H.J. Res. 43) that rescinds a rule issued under former President Barack Obama that prohibited states from withholding Title X funding from health care facilities that provide abortion care.

    Title X program, rule details

    The federal government through the Title X program allocates funding directly to states and nongovernmental organizations, which then award the money to health care providers seeking funds for services such as:

    • Contraception;
    • Fertility care;
    • Pregnancy care;
    • Screenings for breast and cervical cancer; and
    • Sexually transmitted infection testing and treatment.

    Federal law prohibits the use of federal funding for abortion care except in instances of rape, incest, and when a pregnant woman's life is in danger. The Obama administration in December 2016 finalized a rule barring states from withholding Title X funding from abortion providers following multiple states' efforts to defund Planned Parenthood.

    However, Congress last month voted to rescind the rule under the Congressional Review Act (CRA), which allows Congress to overturn certain rules issued by the executive branch. Under CRA, simple majority votes in each chamber can invalidate a regulation by passing a joint resolution of disapproval that is signed by the president.

    Reaction

    Antiabortion-rights advocates praised the measure, which they say will ensure federal funding is not used to provide abortion care.

    Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, said, "Prioritizing funding away from Planned Parenthood to comprehensive health care alternatives is a winning issue."

    House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) called the legislation's signing "a major pro-life victory."

    However, abortion-rights advocates said the measure could harm women's health.

    Heidi Williamson, a senior policy analyst at the Center for American Progress' Women's Health and Rights Program, said, "Despite repeated promises that he would protect and invest in women's health, [Trump] has once again shown that his words carry little weight." She added, "Trump's actions are creating very real and damaging consequences for millions of women and their families, inflicting direct harm on already vulnerable communities."

    Diane Horvath-Cosper, a physician and fellow at Physicians for Reproductive Health, said, "Allowing states to withhold Title X funding from family planning clinics won't make anyone safer or healthier—it will instead place essential services out of reach."

    Planned Parenthood EVP Dawn Laguens in a statement said "four million people depend on the Title X family planning program, and by signing this bill, [Trump] disregards their health and well-being" (Hirschfeld Davis, New York Times, 4/13; Lambert, Reuters, 4/13; Hellmann, The Hill, 4/13).

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