The new Title X rule is a pro-life win

Stripping federal grants from programs that support abortion is a cause for celebration.

Logan Zeppieri, Opinions Editor

(This story was originally published in print on Feb. 28, 2019).

On Feb. 22, the Trump administration issued, through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the final rule to revise the Title X family planning program. The new revision will require organizations who receive funding through Title X to be completely separate from organizations that provide or can make referrals for abortions.

Immediate backlash came from California Gov. Gavin Newsom, who will sue the Trump administration over the new rule. The claim is that the new rule is unconstitutional, will negatively impact low-income families, will cause mass layoffs and is a step backwards for women’s reproductive health.

Despite the backlash from California’s governor—and attorney generals from New York and Washington—the move from the Trump administration to use the president’s executive authority to defund abortions should be celebrated among Christians and other pro-life allies.   


According to the Department of Health and Human Services, the Title X family planning program “plays a critical role in ensuring access to a broad range of family planning and preventative health services,” and “is the only federal grant program dedicated solely to providing individuals with comprehensive family planning and related preventative health services.”

There are five major provisions of Title X: services, training, research, information and education, and the prohibition of abortion. In general, these five provisions covers a wide range of family planning methods and related support. These include pregnancy-related services such as STD screenings and counseling, training in family planning methods, funding for disseminating information and a strict prohibition on using Title X grants in programs where abortion is a method of family planning.


According to the new Title X rule, two important implications follow—clear separation for funding and reaffirming original intent.

First, the new Title X rule requires clear financial and physical separation between organizations that engage in family planning and organizations that can perform abortions or make referrals for abortions. The result is that $286 million in federal funding will no longer be available to organizations that have any overlap between their family planning programs and abortion services.

And second, the new Title X rule reaffirms the original intent of Title X family planning. According to Wynette Sills, director of Californians for Life, “This updated Title X language is reflective of the original Title X document as well as a reflection of the well-known Hyde amendment.” The Hyde amendment was the 1976 amendment that prevents federal funding from being used for abortion.


Despite Newsom’s willingness to sue the federal government over family planning funding, President Trump’s move should be a cause for celebration for those who celebrate the lives of unborn children.

First, Trump’s move reaffirms the original intent of Title X. In 1970, Richard Nixon signed Title X into law, aiming to provide low-income Americans with opportunities to seek family planning guidance. However, a loophole was quickly discovered. While Title X funding could not be used to perform abortions, they could refer women to organizations that did not receive Title X funding.

In 1988, Ronald Reagan tried to close the loophole, banning Title X recipients from counseling, advising and referring women for abortions. But this was struck down by the Supreme Court in Rust v. Sullivan.

Trump’s new rule revisits this old debate by baring recipients from referring women to abortions—that is, not allowing them to specify where to get an abortion or advise pregnant women to get an abortion.

And second, according to the New York Times, this step “could strip millions of dollars from Planned Parenthood and direct it toward religiously-based, anti-abortion groups.” Already, according to the Chicago Tribune, Planned Parenthood in Illinois is anticipating losing $2.5 million dollars in Title X funding because they are unwilling to stop providing abortions. And about one-third of the $20 million California receives in Title X funding, roughly seven percent of the total Title X funding, will no longer be disbursed to the 107 California Planned Parenthood locations.

Despite the claims by Newsom that this is a step backwards for women’s reproductive health, Trump’s move reaffirms the original intent of Title X, prohibiting funding for procedures that destroy families, and properly begins to isolate the nationwide debate. The debate is not about women’s health, but about abortion. Under Trump’s new rule, the answer to that debate is that the United States will not use family planning funding to support killing children.

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