Nearly 200 members of Congress and 100 state and national pro-life groups are calling on the Trump administration to take taxpayers out of the abortion business.
The coalition sent a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar on Monday asking him to cut off abortion providers from Title X dollars, which are earmarked for family planning services.
“For far too long the Title X Family Planning Program has been integrated with abortion centers,” the letter read. “It is time to act swiftly to disentangle abortion centers from the Title X network. Doing so would be consistent with the President’s pledge and subsequent actions to defund Planned Parenthood and reallocate funding to alternative providers.”
The letter was signed by 41 senators and 153 representatives.
Pro-life leaders from the Susan B. Anthony List, National Right to Life, Students for Life of America and Live Action also signed the letter.
Rep. Diane Black, one of the signatories, said abortion is “family destruction,” not family planning.
“It is my hope that Secretary Azar will review and update these regulations to stop funding for programs, like Planned Parenthood, that disgustingly dub abortion ‘family planning,'” the Tennessee Republican said in a statement.
The Reagan administration issued regulations preventing Title X recipients from engaging in abortion-related activities. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the rule in the 1991 Rust v. Sullivan decision.
Planned Parenthood would stand to lose between $50 and $60 million annually if the rule were reinstated, said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List.
“The pro-life grassroots are furious with the inability of the Republican-controlled Congress to stop taxpayer funding of abortion and abortion businesses like Planned Parenthood,” Ms. Dannenfelser said in a statement. “We urge the Trump administration to act swiftly to revise the Title X regulations, stopping the flow of Title X dollars to abortion centers.”
Congressional Republicans and President Trump have expressed their willingness to divest Planned Parenthood’s annual taxpayer funding, roughly $500 million, to licensed women’s health clinics that do not perform abortions. Most of the abortion giant’s federal funds come from Medicaid reimbursements. Axios reported on Monday that the Trump administration was actively considering cutting abortion providers off from Title X funding.
White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway reportedly went to the president on Friday to make the case for the policy.
In her pitch, she reportedly urged Mr. Trump to follow through on his campaign promise to defund Planned Parenthood, pointed out that Planned Parenthood donated tens of millions of dollars to his 2016 opponent, Hillary Clinton and walked him through a map showing the extent to which women’s health clinics outnumber Planned Parenthood facilities.
Several states have already redirected Title X funds from abortion providers. About a month before he left office, President Obama enacted a rule prohibiting states from considering whether a clinic performs abortions in the allocation of Title X dollars. Congress overturned that policy shortly after Mr. Trump was inaugurated.
In a statement, Republican Sens. Roy Blunt of Missouri, Joni Ernst of Iowa, James Lankford of Oklahoma and Steve Daines of Montana encouraged strict Title X regulations that would prohibit grantees from co-locating with abortion clinics or referring clients for abortions.
“These new regulations should ensure program integrity by requiring a robust and complete separation of abortion activities from federally funded family planning activities,” the senators said. “Any programs failing to achieve this standard should not receive federal funding.”
Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America, said family planning dollars should “put family first before abortion profiteers who work to ensure that a family is never formed.”
“Students for Life commends members of the House and Senate who are fighting for effective family support and to ensure that the nation’s largest abortion vendor does not profit from the misuse of Title X funds,” Ms. Hawkins said in a statement. “Scarce tax monies designed to help families should not end up in the pockets of people dedicated to preventing families from being created at all.”
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