President Trump is bringing back a Reagan-era rule that would prevent federal “family planning” money from going to organizations that provide for or recommend abortion. This will hurt Planned Parenthood, but it stops far short of defunding the abortion franchise completely.
The federal government has long had a program called Title X, which provides for free birth control medication and devices for low-income women. Funded to the tune of $260 million, Title X goes to a wide range of health clinics.
Under President Reagan, eligibility to Title X funds was restricted to clinics that did not provide abortions or refer women to clinics that did. But that changed under Bill Clinton. So Planned Parenthood now receives some $50 million per year from Title X.
But this is only a small portion of the $500 million that Planned Parenthood receives from the federal government. Most of that comes from Medicaid.
Planned Parenthood could still get Title X money if it established offices that are separate from their abortuaries, with separate staff, and with separate financial structures.
The same cannot be said of Republicans in Congress, who had the chance to defund Planned Parenthood completely during the budget deliberations but refrained from doing so.
But here is a question: Why do we have Title X?
Is it among the constitutionally enumerated powers of the federal government to use taxpayer money to buy contraceptives and then give them to poor people? Isn’t it unseemly, smacking of eugenics, to use the power of the federal government to restrict the number of children born to poor families?
Should religious people who object to contraception be forced to pay taxes for this purpose? Catholics, in particular, believe that contraception is sinful. Not only that, Catholics believe that complicity in a sinful activity is also sinful, putting their immortal souls in jeopardy. Isn’t that reason enough for the federal government not to get entangled in such activity?
And even if giving out free contraceptives is determined to be an acceptable government activity, why do we need Title X? Health insurance policies are required to make contraceptives available free of charge. So does Obamacare. So does Medicaid, the source of most of Planned Parenthood funding.
Isn’t Title X one of those overlapping federal programs that is redundant and unneeded?
Shouldn’t Congress repeal Title X?
Photo: Planned Parenthood Clinic, St. Paul, MN by Fibonacci Blue via Flickr, Creative Commons License