November 16, 2016 by Grace
Several news outlets last week were re-reporting a story that first came out in September. Title X is a family planning grant program that was created in the 70s, with the express purpose of providing accessible sexual and reproductive health care for low-income constituents. Funding is allocated to states by the federal government, and states award grants to institutions that provide this kind of care, Planned Parenthood being the most obvious and notable recipient.
Back in September the Department of Health and Human Services proposed a rule that Title X funding cannot be revoked for political reasons. You can see that here. But it gets a little confusing from here because the 30 day comment public period ended on October 7th, and I’ve yet to find any more news about whether the proposal was accepted or denied.
The HHS Title X rule would certainly have a friend in Obama, hence the urgency.
If the Trump administration strips back the Affordable Care Act, Planned Parenthood would be more important than ever. I left the USA before the ACA was rolled out, and I can attest the Planned Parenthood was the only way I could afford birth control, pap smears, and a sonogram to address the chronic abdominal pain I was feeling. I can tell you too that Planned Parenthood provides confidentiality and resources for victims of assault and domestic abuse. Not that they can address everything, but Planned Parenthood works hard to be a safe space for women, particularly poor women.
Either way, the Trump administration and congressional Republicans will no doubt go after both the ACA and Planned Parenthood.
Title X funding does not go toward abortions (no federal funding ever goes toward abortions), but by funding other Planned Parenthood services, Title X makes it possible for Planned Parenthood to exist on the level it does, and by Republican/Pro-Life logic, that’s bad enough.
Government funding (via grants, tax breaks, etc) makes up slightly less than half of Planned Parenthood funding. So a fully successful government take-down of PP would maim the organisation, but not kill it. In fact I suspect private donations would skyrocket in this scenario. I’d be one of the donors for sure.
Another possibility is that even if the Title X rule does pass, members of Congress and politicians at the state level who oppose PP funding would probably still find a way to twist the rule in their favor. The text read that states may not restrict Title X funding to subrecipients [like Planned Parenthood] “on bases unrelated to their ability to provide Title X services effectively.” Last year in my birth-state of Texas, local lawmakers tried to essentially shut down the majority of Planned Parenthood centers in the state by arguing that they couldn’t provide their services effectively if they weren’t in proximity to a major hospital, didn’t have admitting privileges to said hospital, and didn’t have full hospital-grade surgical facilities. The Supreme Court disagreed.
Now the Trump administration is going to replace Scalia, which I guess wouldn’t make a huge difference considering. If the notorious RBG and other older members of the court can hang on a little longer, we might be okay.
But in the face of this new administration, reproductive rights (the bathwater) and reproductive health (the baby) is a battle we better get ready for.