Trump Tries To Defund Planned Parenthood’s Abortion Program

By Donald A. Collins | 25 February 2019
Church and State

The utterly vicious and stupid continuing assaults on women’s rights to abortion and contraception were perfectly illustrated by two articles which appeared side by side on page A2 of the Saturday, February 23, 2019 Wall Street Journal.

The left hand piece written by Jo Craven McGinty, whose middle name echoes her cowardly treatment of this topic, begins by misleading unwary readers by telling how abortion numbers have declined.

She starts by saying,

A main driver of the recent decline in U.S. fertility has been a steady decrease in births by teenagers and women in their 20s. But some readers have asked whether abortion is responsible. The short answer is: No.

Fertility is near record lows based on two measures: Around 3.85 million babies were born in 2017, the lowest number since 1987. And at 1.8, total fertility, the number of children women are expected to have in their lifetimes, is near the 1976 low of 1.7.

But the number of abortions is also down.

You can read her entire article here.

This decline in abortions (and in fertility) is of course in no small measure due to the efforts of providers of abortion and family planning to make access easier, safer and less expensive for women.

Indeed what a worthy goal for which many women can thank Planned Parenthood and others such as Ipas.com, an international NGO, which I helped start in 1971 and for which I served as its Board Chair and President for 15 years. Ipas works overseas to advance women’s reproductive health and rights and to prevent abortion-related deaths and injuries.

McGinty takes great pains to assure you the declining numbers are correct by citing the Guttmacher Institute’s care in reviewing the numbers.

Having been a member of the initial board of Guttmacher when it was founded, as she points out, in 1968, I am of course proud of its scrupulous accuracy in charting the numerical decline in abortions she depicts. What an encouraging trend.

Yes, to repeat the decline in US births and abortions comes from the substantial work done by Planned Parenthood, on whose national board I also served for 6 years, as well as efforts by NARAL and other abortion providers who have long helped women because of the 1973 Supreme Court decision, Roe vs Wade. You can view how bad conditions were for many women before that decision by screening on this web site the film “Whose Choice?” co-produced by another NGO I started in 1976, International Services Assistance Fund.

However, by implication what McGinty seems to be suggesting is that the NEED for abortion services has somehow gone away since there are fewer US abortions in recent years. It is indeed good news that abortions in the US now are safer. But making abortion harder to get and less safe has certainly been the implacable goal of those against abortion. Of course anyone opposing abortion is in effect promoting unsafe abortions and insuring that women face bad outcomes.

Can you imagine such chicanery? As you can tell from my background in family planning, I can very easily. Of the over 40 million abortions which occur around the world every year, at least a third are done unsafely, resulting in unnecessary deaths and serious injuries.

On this same page, A2 of the February 23rd issue of the Wall Street Journal is a companion story entitled “Trump Administration Curbs Federal Funding for Clinics Providing Abortions” with the sub title, “New rule forces separation of funding and facilities for programs that perform abortions or refer women to have them elsewhere”. This article is also written by a woman, Michelle Hackman. Her name suggests a grievous foul perpetrated by a man on a woman. Yes, Mr. President, that’s what you are doing when you try to restrict abortion services for women by cutting funding.

Her article features a picture with a middle aged woman protester carrying a poster bearing the web site and the words, Studentsforlife.org and DEFUND PLANNED Parenthood.

Hackman opens her piece thusly:

Health clinics that provide on-site abortions, or refer women for the procedure, are set to lose millions of dollars in federal family-planning funds, according to a final Trump administration rule published Friday.

The rule, published by the Department of Health and Human Services, will require a separation—both financial and physical—between the grants and any facility or program that performs or supports abortions or refers women elsewhere to have abortions. It is already against the law for federal dollars to be spent on abortions in most cases.

The rule is designed primarily to target Planned Parenthood, the largest provider under the Title X family planning program. The network of women’s health clinics currently receives about 10% of its funds from the Title X program.

Though the rule doesn’t fully strip federal funds away from Planned Parenthood, as social conservatives and Congressional Republicans have long sought, it takes a significant step in that direction.

Title X will instead steer more funding toward clinics that discourage women from seeking abortions. In a release following the rule’s publication, HHS officials said the changes are designed to protect providers who want to offer family-planning services but refuse, on the basis of conscience, to receive federal funding that requires them to make referrals for abortion counseling.

You can read the entire piece here.

This article allows that there are others protesting this tactic, which has been tried often before.

Antiabortion groups cheered the move, arguing that the Title X program has long helped to indirectly subsidize abortions by supporting clinics that offer them.

“Abortion is neither health care nor family planning, which is why the Title X program has no business funding it,” said Jeanne Mancini, president of March for Life. “We applaud HHS Secretary [Alex] Azar and the Trump administration on this move that protects American taxpayers from paying for abortion through Title X.”

The administration has also sought to prioritize grant funding for abstinence-based sex-education programs and has moved to roll back contraception-coverage requirements.

The rule is set to take effect in 60 days. Democratic states and liberal advocacy groups are expected to take legal action against the administration, possibly delaying its implementation.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democrat considering a run for president, said in a statement, “It is clear the Trump administration has given our state no choice but to explore all possible avenues, including legal options, to ensure all women have access to the family planning and health-care services they need.”

Under the rule, clinics would still be required to provide some contraceptive services, though they would have more flexibility to drop specific forms of birth control, like long-acting intrauterine devices, from their offerings. The rule also calls for clinics that receive Title X funding to “encourage meaningful family participation,” a clause that abortion-rights advocates fear will discourage teenagers from seeking care.

The Title X program, enacted in 1970, provided federal grants totaling about $286 million in fiscal 2017 for family planning, contraception and related preventive health services. It is used by more than four million people, with priority given to low-income patients.

Changes to the Title X program have long been anticipated, touching off opposition from Democrats and women’s advocacy groups who call the regulation a “domestic gag rule” that will imperil access to contraception and abortion.

“As we have seen time and again, the Trump Administration is willing to break the law to pursue policies driven by ideology rather than what is best for women and their families,” said Rep. Frank Pallone (D., N.J.), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce committee, which oversees HHS.

Republicans and antiabortion groups, which have urged the restrictions for years, call the new proposal the “Protect Life Rule.” They stress that it doesn’t prohibit providers from discussing abortion, and they say groups such as Planned Parenthood can preserve funding by separating abortion services from family planning by offering them in separate buildings.

The new policy resembles one issued under the Reagan administration that spurred a long legal fight and was never implemented.

One cannot help but wonder if the new right-wing Supreme Court gets another Roe vs Wade case. Hard to say, but certainly we would hope that with the long existing present abortion laws and the principle of stare decisis which is Latin for “to stand by things decided,” the Court adheres to precedents of earlier cases as sources of law. When an issue has already been ruled upon by a court, other cases involving the same issue must receive the same response from that court or lower courts.

Should it come to a 5 to 4 vote at the Court, I am an optimist in thinking Chief Justice Roberts might vote the right way.

Former US Navy officer, banker and venture capitalist, Donald A. Collins, a free lance writer living in Washington, DC., has spent over 40 years working for women’s reproductive health as a board member and/or officer of numerous family planning organizations including Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Guttmacher Institute, Family Health International and Ipas. Yale under graduate, NYU MBA. He is the author of From the Dissident Left: A Collection of Essays 2004-2013.

From the Dissident Left: A Collection of Essays 2004-2013

By Donald A. Collins
Publisher: Church and State Press (July 30, 2014)
ASIN: B00MA40TVE
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