Pro-Abortion Pitfalls Hidden in Title X Proposal

The new Title X proposal may actually continue funding abortions

The Hubert H. Humphrey Building in Washington, D.C., is the headquarters of the Department of Health and Human Services
The Hubert H. Humphrey Building in Washington, D.C., is the headquarters of the Department of Health and Human Services (photo: By Sarah Stierch, CC BY 4.0, from Wikimedia Commons)

On June 1, the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office of Population Affairs proposed limiting Title X contraception funding to groups that don’t provide abortions. Pro-life advocates cheered that Planned Parenthood, the largest recipient of Title X funding, would lose what Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser described in a statement as “$50-60 million in Title X taxpayer funds annually.”

“President Trump has shown decisive leadership,” said Dannenfelser, “delivering on a key promise to pro-life voters who worked so hard to elect him.” Her praise was echoed by leaders such as Catholic Cardinal Timothy Dolan, who chairs the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities. “Most Americans recognize that abortion is distinct from family planning and has no place in a taxpayer-funded family planning program,” said Dolan, who described Title X as “used to subsidize the abortion industry.”

Abortion supporters have decried the move. Planned Parenthood and two other national abortion groups filed a lawsuit in May against another move by HHS to redirect some federal funds for family planning to non-contraceptive efforts. 

The public comment period for the new proposal ends on July 31, 2018. Despite rhetoric from both sides of the abortion fight, it actually continues funding abortions – and may expand the number of federally-funded abortions. 


Abortion Funding Shifted, Not Eliminated

According to Title X policy, contraceptive services include Plan B, Ella, copper IUDs, and other drugs and devices which either do, or could, induce an abortion. Changing the direction of funding away from Planned Parenthood will indeed reduce the coffers of America’s largest abortion company – but a federally qualified health center’s abortifacient may cause the death of an unborn child just as easily as an abortion centers’ pill or device.

Perhaps more concerning is that the definition of “low-income family” is dramatically expanded. According to the proposed rule, “With respect to contraceptive services, a woman can be considered from a ‘low-income family’ if she has health insurance coverage through an employer which does not provide the contraceptive services sought by the woman because it has a sincerely held religious or moral objection to providing such coverage.”

This means women who are middle-income earners or even wealthy will qualify as “low-income.” A May 22 press release doubled down, noting that the proposal will permit individuals to qualify for Title X services if they are unable to obtain employer-sponsored insurance coverage for certain contraceptive services due to their employer’s religious beliefs or moral convictions.

This latter line – “due to their employer’s religious beliefs or moral convictions” – is a third problem with the proposal. President Donald Trump’s HHS recently exempted employers from the Obama-era contraception/abortifacient/sterilization mandate if they have moral or religious objections. Expanding the size of Title X’s potential pool simply shifts the private sector mandate onto taxpayers. It may not be quite as morally depraved, but it still forces those who oppose contraception and abortion on the hook for funding it.

All in all, this new proposal might reduce the number of abortions in America. It certainly will deprive our nation’s largest provider of abortions of about 10 percent of its government funding. But it almost certainly will not only fund abortions, but potentially expand how many women are able to use taxpayer funding to end their children’s lives. 

Regretfully, abortifacient-caused abortions aren’t counted when the Centers for Disease Control and the Guttmacher Institute count the numbers of abortions in America. So we may never know the true life-ending ramifications of this policy. 

A representative for The Catholic Association and USCCB declined comment on the expansion of abortion and what these leading Catholic groups are doing to end public funding of abortifacients and contraceptives. Spokespersons for Live Action, SBA List, and the Trump administration did not return requests for comment about the funding concerns.