HHS unveils policy blocking Title X funds to abortion providers, referrers

A sign hangs above a Planned Parenthood clinic

The new rule also eliminates a 2000 requirement that clinics provide "non-directive" pregnancy counseling, which might include information on abortion.

Women's groups, organizations representing the clinics, and Democratic-led states are expected to sue to block the policy from going into effect.

For Teresa McCann-Tumidajski, executive director of Maine Right to Life, an anti-abortion group, this change "makes common sense".

'The Protect Life Rule does not cut family planning funding by a single dime...'(Kaylee McGhee, Liberty Headlines) President Donald Trump finalized the Protect Life Rule on Friday, which redirects government funding away from health centers that provide abortions-partially defunding abortion giant Planned Parenthood.

"In many parts of the country Planned Parenthood is the only provider who participates in the program", said Dr. Leana Wen, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

"This is a life-saving policy change, as abortion vendors have used these family planning resources to underwrite their deadly enterprise", she said.

Maine Gov. Janet Mills criticized the change. Formally known as the Protect Life Rule, this resembles a similar "gag rule" that already applies to federal funds allocated to reproductive health organizations operating overseas. "It compromises the oath I took to serve my patients and help them make the best decisions about their health", Wen wrote.

Title X funds have never been authorized to pay for abortions, Hasstedt said.

Although federal family planning funds by law can not be used to pay for abortions, religious conservatives have long argued that the programme indirectly subsidises Planned Parenthood.

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"Planned Parenthood is proud to serve 41% of the 4 million people who rely on Title X health centers". She said the hard-line distinction between abortion service providers and Title X facilities is necessary to avoid inadvertently funding abortion providers simply by sharing facilities and company infrastructure.

Pro-life advocates and many Republican lawmakers have long called for the federal defunding of Planned Parenthood. They have also described it as an indirect way to defund Planned Parenthood, which has always been a target of antiabortion activists as the nation's largest provider of reproductive care services.

Religious conservatives see the administration's action as a way to break down what they call an indirect taxpayer subsidy of abortion providers.

Perkins said in a statement that the Protect Life Rule is a "major step toward the ultimate goal of ending taxpayers' forced partnership with the abortion industry".

Leaders on both sides of the aisle appear ready to battle one another over the Trump administration's move to change Title X funding Friday. Health and Human Services Department officials have said they were necessary to ensure transparency and the legal and ethical use of taxpayer funds. A department official confirmed it was the final version. The grant program costs taxpayers about $260 million a year.

In short, abortion businesses like Planned Parenthood will not receive Title X funding if they choose not to comply with the Protect Life Rule.

It would also bar Planned Parenthood and other health care providers that accept the funding from making any abortion referrals or performing abortions - regardless of the funding source - at the same facilities where they provide Title X services like birth control, mammograms and cancer screenings. Her organization is a political advocacy group that backs anti-abortion candidates.

Under the rule, clinics would still have to provide an array of contraceptive services but could partner or subcontract with groups that stress abstinence only or natural family planning.

"This rule intentionally strikes at the heart of the patient-provider relationship, inserting political ideology into a family planning visit, which will frustrate and ultimately discourage patients from seeking the health care they need", said Clare Coleman, president and CEO of the National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association.

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