Washington D.C., Oct 8, 2021 / 10:01 am (CNA).
The U.S. bishops’ pro-life chairman said on Thursday that the Biden administration is “wrong” for reopening federal funding of abortion providers in the Title X program.
This week, the administration published a final rule stating clinics receiving Title X family planning funding could refer for abortions, and did not have to be physically and financially separate from abortion facilities. The rule reversed regulations put in place by the Trump administration to separate Title X funding from abortion providers.
“The Administration is wrong to allow taxpayer dollars to fund abortion providers who participate in a pre-pregnancy program specifically designed to exclude abortion,” stated Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Pro-Life Activities, on Thursday, Oct. 7.
Title X is a federal program created in 1970 that subsidizes family-planning and preventative health services, including contraception, for low-income families. The original statute that created the program specified that no funds “shall be used in programs where abortion is a method of family planning.”
“Title X was intended and authorized to be a program entirely separate from abortion,” Archbishop Naumann said.
“Abortion is not family planning,” he said. “Abortion takes the life of an already-conceived and growing child. The violence of abortion wounds countless women physically, spiritually, and emotionally.”
Naumann added that bishops have grave concerns about government promotion of contraceptives, and have long supported efforts to ensure that abortion is kept physically and financially separate from family planning under Title X.
Under the Clinton administration’s update to the program in 2000, grant recipients had to provide abortion counseling and abortion referrals to clients upon request.
Then in 2018, the Trump administration first proposed requiring a strict physical and financial line of separation between Title X recipients and any program or facility that performs abortion, or refers for abortion. This requirement, now known as the Protect Life Rule, was implemented in March 2019.
The Protect Life Rule barred Title X recipients from referring for or performing abortions, and required recipients to be both physically and financially separate from facilities that perform abortions. Planned Parenthood in August 2019 announced it would stop participating in the program rather than comply with the new regulations.
Now, the Biden administration has officially rescinded the Protect Life Rule, after President Biden – in one of his first actions in office – announced his intent to do so.
In January, Naumann responded to Biden’s announcement and said that “by rescinding this rule, the Administration will be forcing abortion into a pre-pregnancy program specifically designed to exclude abortion; a move which is immoral, impractical, and may also be unlawful.”
An Oct. 4 press release from the Department of Health and Human Services said that the new rule will “impact actions announced earlier including grants to support telehealth and address the dire need for family planning services following recent events in Texas and across the country to limit access to essential reproductive healthcare.” In September, HHS had announced it would award up to $10 million for emergency contraceptives and family planning to clinics in Texas and around the country, in the wake of the state’s new restrictions on abortion.
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