Kathy Schiffer is a Catholic blogger. In addition to her blog Seasons of Grace, her articles have appeared in the National Catholic Register, Aleteia, Zenit, the Michigan Catholic, Legatus Magazine, and other Catholic publications. She’s worked for Catholic and other Christian ministries since 1988, as radio producer, director of special events and media relations coordinator. Kathy and her husband, Deacon Jerry Schiffer, have three adult children.
On May 18 the Trump Administration proposed new rules that would direct taxpayer funding away from abortion businesses like Planned Parenthood. In proposing the new rules to the Title X family planning program, President Trump has delivered on a key promise to pro-life voters who worked to elect him.
President Trump confirmed the new policy on May 22 at the National Building Museum in our nation’s capital, where he was keynote speaker for the Susan B. Anthony List's 17th annual Campaign for Life Gala.
Known as the “Protect Life Rule,” the new proposal would redirect tax dollars to community and rural health centers that do not promote or perform abortions. Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, thanked President Trump for taking action to disentangle taxpayers from the abortion business. “Planned Parenthood,” Dannenfelser said, “is responsible for more than 300,000 abortions a year and has been receiving $50-60 million in Title X taxpayer funds annually. The Protect Life Rule doesn't cut a single dime from taxpayer funding.”
Dannenfelser anticipates that the Supreme Court will uphold the regulations, which echo similar regulations upheld in the 1991 Rust v. Sullivan case. In that case, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that government funded family-planning services should not engage in conversation about abortion services or information. While some pro-abortion physicians and clinics argued that the rule violated physicians' First Amendment rights and women's rights to an abortion, as established in the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, the Supreme Court ultimately maintained the original regulation, arguing that it was within bounds for the government to “fund one activity to the exclusion of another.”
Now Your Response Is Needed
But even as pro-life groups are celebrating the initiative, Planned Parenthood has posted a “Red Flag,” actively recruiting its adherents to oppose what it calls an “extremely dangerous gag rule.”
The Department of Health and Human Services is inviting public comment on the bill before it is finally enacted into law. Their website explains the proposal:
The Office of Population Affairs (OPA) in the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health, proposes to revise its Title X regulations... to ensure compliance with, and enhance implementation of, the statutory requirement that none of the funds appropriated for Title X may be used in programs where abortion is a method of family planning and related statutory requirements.
In addition, OPA proposes amendments to the Title X regulations that would, among other things, clarify grantee responsibilities to provide a broad range of family planning methods; to require documented compliance with State and local laws requiring notification or the reporting of child abuse, child molestation, sexual abuse, rape, incest, intimate partner violence and human trafficking; to provide free or low cost access to family planning services for those women who are unable to obtain employer-sponsored insurance coverage for certain contraceptive services due to their employers' religious beliefs or moral convictions; to provide for the appropriate expenditure of federal Title X funds on family planning services, rather than on lobbying or related activities; and to appropriately encourage family participation in family planning decisions, all as required by Federal law.
Pro-life adherents should step up to make their voices heard, writing with courtesy, logic and truth. Submit written comments, under the heading “Family Planning,” to the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health, Office of Population Affairs. Comments may be submitted by one of the following methods:
- Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments.
- Mail or Hand Delivery: Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health, Office of Population Affairs, Attention: Family Planning, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Hubert H. Humphrey Building, Room 716G, 200 Independence Avenue SW, Washington, DC 20201.
Comments received will be posted without change to http://www.regulations.gov, including any personal information provided. You may submit your comment anonymously; and in any case, you should not include any personally identifiable information (such as name, address or other contact information) or confidential business information that you do not want publicly disclosed. All comments may be posted on the internet and can be retrieved by most internet search engines. No deletions, modifications, or redactions will be made to the comments received.
The comment period on the legislation ends July 31, and no comments will be considered after that date.