Last week, the Department of Health and Human Services proposed a new rule that does not allow individual states to withhold Title X federal family planning money from recipients, with the exception of the provider being unable to “deliver services to program beneficiaries in an effective manner” (Huffington Post). More specifically, states will not be able to defund Planned Parenthood simply due to the fact that some of its clinics offer abortion services.
As a review, Title X family planning clinics play a critical role in ensuring access to a broad range of family planning and preventive health services (HHS), providing benefits to every American citizen, especially lower income families who would otherwise have a hard time gaining access to such services. Close to 85 percent of individuals who use Planned Parenthood have incomes below $23,500 (Huffington Post).
Planned Parenthood receives $70 million a year to subsidize contraceptives and cancer and sexually transmitted infection screenings for those who can’t afford them, though none of that money goes towards abortion services (Huffington Post). These services have allowed Planned Parenthood to, among other great feats, be at the front line on the fight against the Zika virus, taking such preventative measures as distributing Zika prevention kits and educating women in affected areas (Politics USA).
There’s no doubt that this additional provision will greatly benefit many Americans. According to the president of Planned Parenthood Cecile Richards, “This will make a difference in so many people’s lives. Thanks to the Obama administration, women will still be able to access the birth control they need to plan their families, and the cancer screenings they need to stay healthy” (Politics USA).
It can be argued that this new rule is especially important now after the recent presidential election results and the strong Republican presence in both the House and Senate. President Obama seems to be taking proactive measures during his last couple of months in office in anticipation of potential defunding in the future. Historically, opponents to Planned Parenthood have cut funding to the organization, which has led to the disruption and reduction of services (Snopes). Consequently, pro-life advocates are less than thrilled about Obama’s new addition, and hope to stop it in its tracks. Tennessee Rep. Republican Diane Black has already attacked the new rule, saying, “We must use full force of Congress and grassroots strength of the [Catholic] pro-life movement to defeat this absurd rule and prevent the Obama Administration from carrying out political favours and prop up a scandal-ridden abortion provider” (Politics USA).
Much of the opposition from pro-life advocates was recently centered around the supposed scandal involving Planned Parenthood selling fetal body parts, accounted for on undercover video. This scandal has long since been cleared as completely false. That being said, there is still much resistance against Planned Parenthood from a pro-life standpoint.
Now that the Obama Administration has signed this new provision, it will take about 30 days for the Health and Human Services Department to review public comments on the proposal before it is officially put into effect.
To give your own donations to Planned Parenthood, you can find instructions here: https://secure.ppaction.org/site/Donation2?df_id=12913&12913.donation=fo…