HHS Final Rule Blocks Funding to Clinics With Abortion Services

Chicago. Under the new rule posted Friday by the federal Department of Health and Human Services Office of Population Affairs any organization that provides or refers patients for abortion

Its key elements include "prohibiting referral for abortion as a method of family planning", the health department said in a statement, adding that the rule "eliminates the requirement that Title X providers offer abortion counseling and referral".

Under the rule, clinics that receive federal family planning funding are prohibited from operating in facilities that also provide abortions, imposing what it described as "financial and physical" separation.

Social conservatives have opposed Title X funding and the new rule "is expected to redirect" money from institutions like Planned Parenthood to faith-based groups, according to the Washington Post. It's not official until it appears in the Federal Register and the department said there could be "minor editorial changes".

The finalized version of the rule was announced in a February 22 press release from the Department of Health and Human Services. "The Title X program was not meant to be a slush fund for abortion businesses like Planned Parenthood, which violently ends the lives of more than 332,000 unborn babies a year and receives nearly $60 million a year in Title X taxpayer dollars".

In Maine last fiscal year, that federal program helped serve 23,811 patients at more than 40 health care centers.

Federal law bans the use of taxpayer money for abortions, except in cases of rape or incest or when a pregnanat mother's life is in danger.

Susan B. Anthony List (SBA List), which has worked closely with the Trump administration on anti-choice priorities, called the final rules a "victory" in a press release.

Although federal family planning funds by law can not be used to pay for abortions, religious conservatives have long argued that the programme indirectly subsidises Planned Parenthood. Trump's new regulation would apply the "gag rule" to family planning clinics in the U.S.

The rule threatens federal funding to the nation's largest abortion provider, Planned Parenthood, three years after Republicans with full control of Congress repeatedly failed to make good on campaign promises to defund the organization after undercover videos showed it trafficking in human remains from abortions. Planned Parenthood now gets about $60 million a year nationwide in Title X federal funding. Planned Parenthood serves about 41 percent of Title X patients and receives about $60 million from the program.

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"When congressional action lagged, we worked with the administration on securing this decisive executive action", she said.

Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., the chairman of the Bipartisan Congressional Pro-Life Caucus, said the new rules move Title X closer to "its originally intended goal - the provision of family planning services, not abortions".

It's hardly a fatal blow to Planned Parenthood, but it will have a negative impact on access to its services.

Students for Life of America President Kristan Hawkins used politically charged language in a statement on the finalized rule to dubiously connect abortion services to infanticide.

"We stand ready to take any and all legal action to protect women's health and rights", California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said in a statement, after the administrator for the Title X program in California reported that the new rules would likely result in increased wait times and delays for care.

Saturday, Maine Family Planning announced that it will seek a preliminary injunction to prevent the rule from going into effect.

Leaders of health associations representing black and Latino health care providers and patients joined Wen at a news briefing to decry the new rule They said women from their communities make up more than half the beneficiaries of Title X grants and would be disproportionately harmed by the changes.

Irwin calls the rules "atrocious" and says many clinics are now in a hard position.

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