Technicalities & Laxities in Title X Regulations

The Title X Family Planning program found itself once again under the microscope in the recent budget debates. This program was enacted in 1970, prior to the controversial Roe v. Wade decision. However, the Health & Human Services (HHS) website for Title X Family Planning Services clearly states: “By law, Title X funds may not be used in programs where abortion is a method of family planning.”

And yet, Planned Parenthood receives Title X funds. How does that work?

Thankfully, John McCormack at the Weekly Standard has done some digging into this question, so that we can better educate ourselves. His blog post yesterday, titled Read the Law: Federal Tax Dollars May Subsidize Planned Parenthood Abortionists, reiterates again that no taxpayer dollars can directly fund abortion, but:

              “…the law does nothing to prevent tax dollars from subsidizing abortionists.

“The lax regulation that was issued by the Clinton administration and still governs Title X, the federal government’s contraception program, explicitly allows Title X programs and abortion clinics to share the same facilities and even the same staff. 

“…Certain kinds of shared facilities are permissible, so long as it is possible to distinguish between the Title X supported activities and non-Title X abortion-related activities: (a) A common waiting room is permissible, as long as the costs properly pro-rated; (b) common staff is permissible, so long as salaries are properly allocated and all abortion related activities of the staff members are performed in a program which is entirely separate from the Title X project; (c) a hospital offering abortions for family planning purposes and also housing a Title X project is permissible, as long as the abortion activities are sufficiently separate from the Title X project; and (d) maintenance of a single file system for abortion and family planning patients is permissible, so long as costs are properly allocated.”

McCormack then asks the obvious question: What types of procedures constitute adequate separation of abortion activities from Title X programs?

The response he received from HHS (also posted at his blog) was not surprising. Rather than address procedures necessary to ensure that abortion-related activities are separated from Title X programs, the spokeswoman says that Title X is a grant program. Entities submit proposals and are granted funds based on the worthiness of their project. Once approved funds may be spent on staff salaries and other allowable expenses (e.g. equipment, supplies, etc.).

And so the question remains – what safeguards are in place to ensure that Title X grants are awarded in accord with the myriad of regulations by which the program is governed? Given the President’s complete unwillingness to even consider defunding Planned Parenthood, there may also be an additional question: If useful safeguards exists, who enforces them?

The bottom line: direct taxpayer funding of abortion is (technically) illegal (at least – as McCormack points out – until Obamacare goes into effect).

Federal subsidizing of abortion? Planned Parenthood gets more than $300 million of our tax dollars.

The proof is in the pudding.

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