New rule bars pulling funds from Planned Par­ent­hood

Obama edict at risk un­der Trump team

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - BY BRAD­FORD RICHARD­SON

Pres­i­dent Obama is de­liv­er­ing a gen­er­ous part­ing gift to Planned Par­ent­hood in the form of a rule pro­hibit­ing states from di­vest­ing mil­lions of dol­lars from the na­tion’s largest abor­tion provider.

The fi­nal ver­sion of the rule, is­sued by the De­part­ment of Health and Hu­man Ser­vices, re­quires states to dis­trib­ute dol­lars from Ti­tle X of the Pub­lic Health Ser­vice Act without tak­ing into ac­count whether re­cip­i­ent clin­ics per­form abor­tions.

The edict is set to go into ef­fect Jan. 18, two days be­fore the pres­i­den­tial in­au­gu­ra­tion of Don­ald Trump.

Ce­cile Richards, pres­i­dent of the Planned Par­ent­hood Fed­er­a­tion of Amer­ica, praised Mr. Obama as a “cham­pion for women’s health” but ex­pressed doubt as to whether the rule will sur­vive un­der Mr. Trump’s pick to head HHS, Rep. Tom Price of Ge­or­gia.

“This rule pro­tects birth con­trol, can­cer screen­ings, STI test­ing and treat­ment, and other health care for mil­lions of peo­ple,” Ms. Richards said in a state­ment. “Yet this fight is not over. We are deeply con­cerned about the fu­ture of health care ac­cess in this coun­try with ex­trem­ists like Mike Pence and Tom Price at the helm.”

Rep. Diane Black, a Ten­nessee Repub­li­can who sits on the Se­lect In­ves­tiga­tive Panel on In­fant Lives, said the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion “will not have the last word” on the rule.

“We should not be sur­prised that his ad­min­is­tra­tion would lash out with this eleventh hour power grab on the way out the door, but I am cer­tain this rule will not stand for long,” Ms. Black said in a state­ment. “Come next year, our pro-life ma­jori­ties in Congress will be po­si­tioned to work with Pres­i­dent-Elect Trump and pro-life nom­i­nee for Sec­re­tary of Health and Hu­man Ser­vices, Dr. Tom Price, to not only roll back this lat­est over­reach but also to en­act new le­gal pro­tec­tions for these most vul­ner­a­ble mem­bers of our so­ci­ety.”

Ti­tle X dol­lars are ear­marked for fam­ily plan­ning ser­vices such as con­tra­cep­tion, as well as test­ing for sex­u­ally trans­mit­ted dis­eases and can­cer. They can­not be used di­rectly to sub­si­dize abor­tions. Planned Par­ent­hood re­ceives ap­prox­i­mately $60 mil­lion an­nu­ally from Ti­tle X grants, ac­cord­ing to a 2015 Con­gres­sional Bud­get Of­fice anal­y­sis.

Un­like the $390 mil­lion Planned Par­ent­hood re­ceives in Med­i­caid re­im­burse­ments, fund­ing un­der Ti­tle X is pro­vided up­front and can be used to­ward fixed costs that come with run­ning a clinic, such as staffing and fa­cil­ity main­te­nance.

At least 14 states have taken ac­tion to cut Planned Par­ent­hood’s share of Ti­tle X fund­ing in re­cent years, of­ten al­lo­cat­ing those dol­lars to fam­ily plan­ning clin­ics that do not per­form abor­tions.

The new Ti­tle X rule is the lat­est in a her­culean ef­fort by Mr. Obama to pre­vent Repub­li­cans at the state and fed­eral lev­els from de­fund­ing Planned Par­ent­hood, most re­cently in the wake of an un­der­cover video in­ves­ti­ga­tion ac­cus­ing the abor­tion gi­ant of traf­fick­ing in fe­tal body parts.

Mr. Obama ve­toed a bill strip­ping Planned Par­ent­hood of the bulk of its fund­ing ear­lier this year, af­ter Congress for the first time sent such a bill to the pres­i­dent’s desk.

Shortly there­after, the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion is­sued a memo warn­ing of­fi­cials in all 50 states that block­ing Med­i­caid dol­lars from Planned Par­ent­hood vi­o­lates fed­eral law.

Steven H. Aden, se­nior coun­sel with Al­liance De­fend­ing Free­dom, said states should be able to choose how to al­lo­cate re­sources at the lo­cal level.

“The Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion, even in its wan­ing hours, has cho­sen to put Planned Par­ent­hood’s Big Abor­tion agenda ahead of women’s health and the right of states to de­cide how best to pri­or­i­tize pub­lic health fund­ing so that pa­tients and the most com­pre­hen­sive health providers come first,” Mr. Aden said in a state­ment.

He said Mr. Trump “should re­store the fo­cus on women’s health and the abil­ity of states to best serve them by re­scind­ing this Ti­tle X or­der im­me­di­ately af­ter tak­ing of­fice as pres­i­dent.”

Karen A. Scott, chief med­i­cal of­fi­cer to the Of­fice of the As­sis­tant Sec­re­tary for Health, said the rule will “strengthen ac­cess to es­sen­tial ser­vices like can­cer screen­ings and con­tra­cep­tion for some of the most vul­ner­a­ble pa­tients in this coun­try.”

Although Planned Par­ent­hood says abor­tion is only a mi­nus­cule per­cent­age of its ser­vices, the num­ber of health care ser­vices it pro­vides con­tin­ues to dwin­dle.

Ac­cord­ing to an­nual re­ports re­leased by Planned Par­ent­hood, the num­ber of health care ser­vices its clin­ics pro­vided from 2012 to 2014 dropped by 10 per­cent, from ap­prox­i­mately 10.6 mil­lion to 9.5 mil­lion. Although nearly 3 mil­lion pa­tients vis­ited Planned Par­ent­hood clin­ics in 2012, that num­ber fell to 2.5 mil­lion in 2014.

De­spite a na­tion­wide abor­tion down­trend, the num­ber of abor­tions per­formed at Planned Par­ent­hood clin­ics has re­mained steady or in­creased. Planned Par­ent­hood per­formed just un­der 200,000 abor­tions in 2001, and that num­ber bal­looned to more than 333,000 by 2011.

Mr. Aden said there are plenty of health care clin­ics more de­serv­ing of Ti­tle X funds than Planned Par­ent­hood.

“Planned Par­ent­hood isn’t su­pe­rior to true, pub­licly funded health care cen­ters — which are far more nu­mer­ous — sim­ply be­cause it claims to fo­cus on dis­pens­ing birth con­trol, de­spite be­ing Amer­ica’s largest abor­tion busi­ness,” Mr. Aden said.

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