Republican lawmakers are asking the Trump administration to review a federal family planning grant program to ensure money does not go to Planned Parenthood or other abortion providers.
More than 150 House members and more than 40 senators have signed onto letters to Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar, asking him to update regulations regarding Title X family planning grants so abortion providers, specifically Planned Parenthood, cannot receive funds.
According to the lawmakers, the federal grant money is not supposed to go to organizations "where abortion is a method of family planning."
“Planned Parenthood has described abortion as ‘a necessary service that’s as vital to our mission as birth control …’ It is time for the Title X funding stream for Planned Parenthood to be turned off,” the House letter said.
Title X grants, given to family planning and adolescent pregnancy prevention groups, is “the only federal grant program dedicated solely to providing individuals with comprehensive family planning and related preventative health services,” according to HHS.
In 2017, $286,479,000 in grants was provided, HHS statistics show.
The letters decry instances in which an abortion provider and other clinic are “co-located,” meaning the two places share space, staff and facilities. According to the senators’ letter, this “send[s] a message that abortion is considered a method of family planning in federally-funded family planning programs, contrary to the law.”
Planned Parenthood executive vice president Dawn Laguens called the request “outrageous” and “dangerous” in a statement to The Hill.
“This is a domestic gag rule -- and would be a radical departure from the way health care has operated in the United States up until now,” she said. “This would prevent millions of people from getting birth control and preventative care at Planned Parenthood health centers, and at the same time would force doctors and nurses to lie to their patients across the country.”
While most of Planned Parenthood’s government funding is from Medicaid, separate from Title X, the organization would still lose about $50 to $60 million of Title X money, according to The Hill.
President Trump has considered the request to cut off Title X funding from Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider, Axios reported.
“The integrity of taxpayer dollars should never be in question, let alone specified funding for Title X Family Planning Program recipients,” Rep. Diane Black, R-Tenn., said in a statement. “Once again, we see that federal funds are being funneled to abortion service sites when the majority of Americans are opposed to this industry.”
Meanwhile, nearly 90 anti-abortion groups -- such as, National Right to Life, the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission and Susan B. Anthony List -- have asked Azar to “act swiftly to disentangle abortion centers from the Title X network.”
As for the lawmakers’ letters, only Republicans have signed onto them, the Washington Examiner reported.