WASHINGTON — Concerns are being expressed over a new rule proposed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that suggests that it plans to ban states from defunding abortion providers like Planned Parenthood.
The notice of proposed rulemaking, “Compliance with Title X Requirements by Project Recipients in Selecting Subrecipients,” outlines that it plans to amend the Code of Federal Regulations to read, “No recipient making subawards for the provision of services as part of its Title X project may prohibit an entity from participating for reasons unrelated to its ability to provide services effectively.”
Title X was enacted in 1970 under the Public Health Service Act and authorizes the Office of Population Affairs to oversee the disbursement of federal funds for the purpose of assisting organizations that offer “family planning” services. States distribute the capital to reproductive and women’s health organizations as they see fit.
In recent years, a number of states have sought to defund the abortion giant Planned Parenthood after granting the organization funds for years, stating that they do not wish to assist groups that provide abortion services, even if the funds will not be directly used for abortion.
But the Obama administration contends that stripping abortion facilities of funding adversely affects the number of unplanned births in the nation.
“Certain states have policies in place which limit access to high quality family planning services by restricting specific types of providers from participating in the Title X program,” HHS wrote in its proposed rule notice. “These policies, and varying court decisions on their legality, has led to uncertainty among grantees, inconsistency in program administration, and diminished access to services for Title X target populations,” it wrote.
“Reducing access to Title X services has many adverse effects. Title X services have a dramatic effect on the number of unintended pregnancies and births in the United States,” HHS continued. “For example, services provided by Title X-funded sites helped prevent an estimated 1 million unintended pregnancies in 2010 which would have resulted in an estimated 501,000 unplanned births.”
The department also asserted that defunding family planning facilities because they perform abortions “may shift funding from relatively high quality family planning service providers to providers of lower quality.”
But some have expressed concern about the proposed rule and its effect of forcing states to fund Planned Parenthood, including Tennessee Rep. Diane Black, a member of the Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives.
“This latest stunt from President Obama’s Department of Health and Human Services should surprise absolutely no one,” she said in a statement on Tuesday. “We’ve known all along that the Obama Administration will go to untold lengths to protect its friends in the big abortion industry.”
Black outlined she plans to write a letter explaining why a number of members of Congress oppose the move.
“We must use the full force of Congress and the grassroots strength of the national pro-life movement to defeat this absurd rule and prevent the Obama Administration from acting unilaterally to carry out political favors and prop up a scandal-ridden abortion provider,” she stated.
The rule is now open for public comment.