H.J. Res 43 – Defunding Title X, family planning services

H.J. Res 43 – Defunding Title X, family planning services

On February 17th of this year, H.J.Res 43 passed the house, with an aye vote from Rep. Hunter, and crossed over to the Senate. In and of itself this Resolution does not have much content; it was a resolution overturning a rule established during Obama’s presidency.

Before looking at what rule H.J.Res 43 overturned, a few words on this resolution being an example of Congress using administrative rules to establish policy. The administrative rule used is the 1996 Congressional Review Act, which is a part of the larger Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996 signed by President Clinton (http://www.thecre.com/pdf/congress-review-act-1996.pdf) – just knowing that this comes out of a small business act lets one know that this is politics on the sly. In short this act allows Congress to block regulations passed within the last 60 days via majority votes in the House, the Senate and the president’s signature  – but before you think that using this rule is just the standard way of doing business, know that the act has only been used once before, during the Bush White House to be exact (http://www.businessinsider.com/gop-congressional-review-act-stream-rule-2017-2). It is thought that the 115th Congress will attempt to use this act to repeal up to 50 regulations, if you are curious as to what all 50 are – a list can be found at: https://www.insidehighered.com/sites/default/server_files/files/Major%20Rules%20Subject%20to%20CRA%20Under%20Carryover%2011-17-2016%20(1).pdf.

Now to the rule that H.J.Res 43 overturned… in late 2016 Obama’s Department of Health and Human Services established a rule that barred states from withholding Title X monies (about $300 million) from agencies that provide family planning services. So, if H.J. Res 43 passes the Senate and is signed by the President, states will be allowed to withhold these monies from agencies that provide family planning services (http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2017/02/house-just-voted-allow-states-pull-contraception-funding-planned-parenthood).

Title X was passed in 1970 by President Nixon and provided federal grant monies for the provision of reproductive health services, including family planning, to individuals who are low – moderate income as well as to those who are uninsured. Examples of health services covered are HIV prevention, cancer screening, well woman exams, STD screening & treatment and birth control. It should be noted that family planning funds do not cover abortions (no federal monies pay for abortions) and that Title X funds cover both women and men. (Info taken from: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/04/08/title-x-headline_n_846852.html, https://www.hhs.gov/opa/title-x-family-planning/index.html).

Even though Title X does not cover abortions, arguments from the conservative right have been that by receiving these federal monies abortion providers, such as Planned Parenthood, can use other funding streams for abortions. The logic is that if one cuts off federal funding to agencies who receive Title X monies and provide abortions, then the agencies will be forced to shift their monies away from abortions and to family planning services, thus allowing one to reduce the occurrence of abortions.

It is imperative that the Senate vote down this resolution, for if it passes the Senate the odds are high that Mr. Trump will sign it. Not only did Mr. Trump vow to defund Planned Parenthood during his campaign (http://www.cbsnews.com/news/what-donald-trump-presidency-could-mean-for-planned-parenthood-womens-health/) but Mike Pence has proposed this exact legislation for years (http://www.politico.com/story/2011/02/pences-war-on-planned-parenthood-049609#ixzz1Ixicxe2O) and stated in 2011, “We should end the day when the largest abortion provider is the largest recipient of [Title X] federal funding…. What’s clear to me, if you follow the money, you can actually take the funding supports out of abortion. We then have a much better opportunity to move forward to be a society that says yes to life” (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/04/08/title-x-headline_n_846852.html).

The tragedy of this potential bill is that it removes valued and needed healthcare, which is a basic human right, from those who economically struggle and does nothing to reduce the rate of abortion. Rather this potential bill – by defunding family planning counseling and birth control – will lead to an increase in unwanted pregnancies and thus, most likely, an increase in abortions. (https://www.aclu.org/sites/default/files/field_document/2017-2-15_aclu_vote_rec_house_no_hj_res_43_title_x_resolution_of_disapproval.pdf,  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/04/08/title-x-headline_n_846852.html).