WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The U.S.
bishops' pro-life chairman praised the Trump administration's move to reinstate
Reagan-era regulations banning any family planning clinic that receives Title X
federal funds from making abortion referrals or sharing space with abortion
"The news that the Trump administration will be issuing new
regulations to separate abortion from the federal Title X family
planning program is greatly
needed and deeply appreciated," New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan said
in a May 18 statement.
"Abortion always takes the life
of a child and often harms the mother, her surviving children, and other family
and friends as well," said the chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic
Bishops' Committee on Pro-Life Activities.
Other U.S. pro-life leaders
around the country and several members of Congress echoed his remarks, prompted
by the administration's release of the "Protect Life Rule" through the U.S.
Department of Health and Human Services. After a period for public comment, the
proposal will become final. Cardinal Dolan said the USCCB will offer comments during that period.
President Ronald Reagan issued
the Title X regulations in 1988. Planned Parenthood of New York City
immediately challenged the rules, claiming the denial of public funds violated
their constitutional rights of free speech.
In 1991, the U.S. Supreme Court
ruled 5-4 the government had the right to establish rules funding only family
planning programs which do not "encourage, promote or advocate abortion.'' When
President Bill Clinton took office, he reversed the regulations
The Title X Family Planning
Program was enacted under President Richard Nixon in 1970 as part of the Public
Health Service Act.
Title X is the only federal
grant program dedicated solely to providing individuals with comprehensive
family planning and related preventive health services. It is funded every
fiscal year by congressional appropriations.
"Most Americans recognize that
abortion is distinct from family planning and has no place in a taxpayer-funded
family planning program," Cardinal Dolan said in his statement. "For too long,
Title X has been used to subsidize the abortion industry. We need to draw a
bright line between what happens before a pregnancy begins and what happens
after a child has been created."
A January Marist poll
commissioned by the Knights of the Columbus showed that a consensus of
Americans across party lines want to see an end to taxpayer funding of
abortion. Of those polled, four in 10 who identified themselves as "pro-choice"
and more than four in 10 Democrats -- along with the overwhelming majority of
Republicans -- hold this position.
In its original design, and
reflected in current law, "there is a
specific prohibition on abortion-related activities" being funded by
Title X grants, the USCCB said in issuing Cardinal Dolan's statement.
"However, in the years
since the program's creation in 1970, it has been interpreted to require
grantees to refer for abortion, thus both overtly excluding health
object to such referrals from applying for Title X grants and also
direct link between family planning services and the promotion of
"This link," the USCCB added, "is exemplified by the
alarming number of Title X recipients that also provide and promote abortion."
In other reaction, the Knights of Columbus said in a statement:
"Today marks an important step in protecting the lives of unborn children in
the United States. "Americans should not be forced to have their tax dollars
Father Frank Pavone, national
director of Priests for Life, said President Donald Trump "again deserves the
gratitude of the pro-life movement and all Americans for the 'Protect Life
Rule' announced today to divert taxpayer money from the abortion industry and
instead direct it toward those health centers that do not promote or perform
the killing of children through abortion."
"The Reagan rule reinstated by
the current administration finally creates a bright line of separation between
abortion and family planning. Abortion is not family planning -- in sharp
contrast, the violence of abortion wounds families," said Rep. Chris Smith,
R-New Jersey, who is Co-Chairman of the Congressional Pro-Life Caucus.
Smith was among more than 150
members of Congress called for the action on Title X in an April 30 letter to
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar. A couple weeks later a group of
more than 200 members of the House and Senate said urged Azar not to institute
reinstate the Reagan-era rules, calling it essentially a "gag rule" on "health
But Smith and the other group of
lawmakers said in their letter that Title X is in "dire need of review and
updated regulations that ensure program integrity with respect to elective
"While the authorizing statute
drew a bight line between family planning and abortion, the regulations
governing the title X program have blurred that line by requiring all grantees
to refer for abortion," the letter said.
"The separation between abortion
and family planning has been further weakened by permitting Title X clinics to
be 'co-located' within the same facility as an entity that provides abortion,"
"Co-located centers may be
vulnerable to misuse of funds in support of abortion activities and send a message
that abortion is considered a method of family planning in federally funded
family planning programs."
The lawmakers also noted their "deep
concern" that a recent report from the nonpartisan Government Accountability
Office showed that between 2013 and 2015 Planned Parenthood, the nation's
largest abortion provider, received $170 million from the Title X program.
"Planned Parenthood has
described abortion as 'a necessary service that's as vital tour mission as birth
control,'" their letter said. "It is time for the Title X funding stream for
Planned Parenthood to be turned off."