August 21, 2019

Planned Parenthood Exits Title X Program

Editor's note: We couldn’t be more proud of one of our teammates, Isaac Rose-Berman, who penned his first op-ed this week in USA Today: “How college students can bridge American divides: 'Study abroad' in Alabama or New York.” Please give it a read, and share far and wide!

“Planned Parenthood said on Monday it was withdrawing from a federal program subsidizing reproductive healthcare for low-income women after the Trump administration banned participants in the program from referring women to abortion providers… the policy [also] requires financial and physical separation between facilities funded by Title X and those where actual abortions are performed.” Reuters

Under the new rule, “Health professionals are free to provide non-directive pregnancy counseling, including counseling on abortion, and are not prohibited in any way from providing medically necessary information to clients. The Final Rule does NOT include the 1988 Regulation’s prohibition on counseling on abortion – characterized by some as a ‘gag rule’ – but neither does it retain the mandate that all grantees MUST counsel on, and refer for, abortion. Referral for abortion as a method of family planning is not permitted, because the statute written by Congress prohibits funding programs where abortion is a method of family planning.” HHS.gov

See past issues

From the Left

The left is critical of the new rule and argues that it amounts to a gag rule that prevents doctors from providing relevant information to their patients.

The stand-off is a case study in how extreme the tactics of the abortion debate have become. The Trump administration is openly dedicated to kneecapping health-care providers that perform abortions, and Planned Parenthood is its biggest target. Planned Parenthood, meanwhile, would rather take a huge financial hit and wage a high-profile fight with the Trump administration than change its practices. In this political environment, any money or policy that comes close to touching the abortion issue is fair game for war, no matter how many people lose access to health-care services as a result.”
Emma Green, The Atlantic

This is devastating news for the patients who rely on the clinics that have chosen to withdraw from the program, which serves roughly 4 million people (40% of them through Planned Parenthood facilities). Planned Parenthood says it does not plan to close any clinics just yet, but it’s likely to cut back its hours of service. That means contraception and other reproductive healthcare will be harder to come by, particularly in rural areas where the Title X withdrawal will have the most impact. Nor do industry experts believe other community health clinics will pick up the slack, as the Trump administration has predicted. Even if those clinics were willing to try, it would take years for the ones already serving broad populations to be able to take on hundreds of new reproductive care patients.”
Editorial Board, Los Angeles Times

“They claim this isn’t a gag rule, but given how broadly the new Title X guidelines are written—‘A Title X project may not perform, promote, refer for, or support abortion as a method of family planning’—most providers consider themselves gagged because they can’t risk losing their federal funding over any discussion of abortion… A 2019 report from the Guttmacher Institute put it bluntly: ‘The Trump administration is seeking to transform Title X from an agent of reproductive autonomy to a tool of government-sponsored reproductive coercion.’”
Melissa Gira Grant, New Republic

“Planned Parenthood and other reproductive health providers were given an impossible choice: They could have continued to receive Title X funds, but that would have required them not just to stop providing the safe, legal abortions to which American women are entitled but to refuse to even tell women where they could get legal abortion procedures. That's an unconscionable encroachment on free speech; it effectively gags doctors and nurses from giving patients accurate information about their completely legal health care options…

“Contraception isn't just about preventing pregnancy. When women can make their own decisions about their own bodies and reproductive lives, they are more financially secure. They are physically safer. They have more room to grow and achieve what they want. This is what Title X, and Planned Parenthood, fight for: a universe in which women are the primary decision-makers about their own lives and their own bodies.”
Jill Filipovic, CNN

Others note that “[Warren] has provided more detail on Medicare financing than Sanders has. She has also provided more overall policy detail, including on the taxes she would raise, than Joe Biden or Pete Buttigieg. And her Medicare plan comes much, much closer to paying for itself than various Republican tax cuts. I wish the conservatives complaining about her plan applied the same rigor to their own ideas… The biggest weakness of Warren’s approach is that it tries to bulldoze through the sizable public anxiety about radical changes to the health care system. Warren would not let people opt into Medicare, a wildly popular idea. She would force them to join… she needs to come up with a reassuring transition plan soon.”
David Leonhardt, New York Times

“Trump’s defenders will say this evidence is all circumstantial. But circumstantial evidence is not weak evidence: it’s simply evidence based on the circumstances in which an act of wrongdoing is committed — such as the license plate of a car that speeds away from a bank just after that bank is robbed. Criminals are convicted on such evidence all the time. They will also say that there’s no explicit quid pro quo proposal here. But… ‘even when a corrupt deal is struck implicitly, the government can still prosecute extortion on a quid pro quo basis. Circumstantial evidence can be enough to prove a criminal exchange.’…

“In the absence of an explicit quid pro quo over restarting aid, the context and circumstances are what will become the focus of the investigation. There is enough here to support impeachment. Whether it is also enough to convince Republicans and lead to removal is another matter.”
Noah Feldman, Bloomberg

Some suggest that Congress “remove Trump from office, so that he cannot abuse incumbency to subvert the electoral process, but let the American people make the judgment on whether or not he gets a second term… Removing Trump from office for the remainder of his term would disable him from abusing presidential power again and protect the integrity of the electoral process from inappropriate interference. At the same time, letting him run for a second term would permit the American electorate to decide whether Trump, despite his attempt to subvert the system, should have another chance… Decoupling removal from disqualification lowers the stakes and changes the constitutional calculus. As long as Trump can run again, Republicans cannot hide behind a claim that they are [the] ones protecting voter choice by opposing impeachment.”
Edward B. Foley, Politico

From the Right

The right supports the rule and criticizes planned parenthood for prioritizing abortion over women’s healthcare.

From the Right

The right supports the rule and criticizes planned parenthood for prioritizing abortion over women’s healthcare.

“The regulation not only allows doctors to ‘mention’ abortion, it allows ‘nondirective counseling on abortion’ — that is, counseling that doesn’t push a pregnant woman toward an abortion… Is Planned Parenthood really giving up $60 million in federal funding simply because it would have to tell clients to Google the phone number of nearest abortionist, who is often operating down the hall? What’s much more likely is that Planned Parenthood would never comply with the regulation because it also requires physical separation between abortion facilities and grantees that provide contraception under Title X…

“Planned Parenthood is free under the regulation to provide abortion counseling, but it doesn’t want to separate its contraception business from its abortion business, as required by the statute establishing Title X. The new regulation is not simply a meaningful step in the right direction for the pro-life cause, it’s a win for the rule of law.”
John McCormack, National Review

“The Trump administration hasn’t reduced federal funding for the Title X program by a cent… [but] even if contraception access were to decline, it would be evidence not that the Trump administration has gutted Title X but that Planned Parenthood has gutted its own ability to provide health care in order to keep performing abortions. If the group’s executives were serious about women’s health, they would’ve chosen to maintain federal funding, adapting to the rule and financially distinguishing abortion procedures from the rest of the group’s work.”
Alexandra DeSanctis, National Review

“Planned Parenthood [predicts] their withdrawal would create the demise of Title X, but that’s nonsense. The government spends hundreds of millions of dollars on contraception through the program, the kind of demand that creates supply organically. If Planned Parenthood exits the program, other clinics will open to fill the gap — clinics that will comply with the rule not to provide abortion counseling or referrals but stick to contraception, which is Title X’s mission in the first place. There may be some disruption in the short term, but that would be within Planned Parenthood’s power to fixby complying with the rule.”
Ed Morrissey, Hot Air

Dated but relevant: “When Leana Wen was unceremoniously fired as president of Planned Parenthood, she penned a New York Times op-ed citing two reasons for her ouster: 1) Criticism that she ‘did not prioritize abortion enough.’ 2) Resistance to her ‘attempt to depoliticize Planned Parenthood’…

“Wen was criticized as being not merely apolitical, but too conservative. She envisioned Planned Parenthood transcending partisan politics and finding common ground, but that was seen as ‘mission creep’ by the board and entrenched staff. What exactly is your mission if ‘work[ing] to change the perception that Planned Parenthood was just a progressive political entity and show that it was first and foremost a mainstream health care organization’ constitutes mission creep?”
Katie Glenn, Washington Examiner

It’s worth noting that “conservative ideas were much more popular when not associated with the Republican party. In Washington State, voters narrowly rejected bringing affirmative action back to state contracting and university admissions…

“In Seattle, the self-proclaimed socialist city-council member appears to have lost her seat to a pro-business challenger. In Colorado, voters gave fiscal conservatives a big win by rejecting letting the state keep any tax revenues above the state spending cap, money that the state Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights currently guarantees as refunds to taxpayers. In Sussex County, N.J., voters approved, by a 2-to-1 margin, a referendum directing the local freeholder board to cooperate with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. (Washington, Colorado, New Jersey — notice these are places where Republican candidates have had no luck lately.)”
Jim Geraghty, National Review

“If a dozen drones or missiles can do the kind of damage to the world economy as did those fired on Saturday—shutting down about 6 percent of world oil production—imagine what a U.S.-Iran-Saudi war would do to the world economy. In recent decades, the U.S. has sold the Saudis hundreds of billions of dollars of military equipment. Did our weapons sales carry a guarantee that we will also come and fight alongside the kingdom if it gets into a war with its neighbors?… the nation does not want another war. How we avoid it, however, is becoming difficult to see. John Bolton may be gone from the West Wing, but his soul is marching on.”
Patrick Buchanan, The American Conservative

Others note, “I’d hate to be a Democratic member of Congress trying to convince Joe Sixpack that this is a whole new ballgame. The transcript shows Trump being Trump and Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky trying to ingratiate himself with the big dog by, for instance, mentioning that he stays at Trump hotels. Trump’s conversation is typically scattershot, wandering all over the field, leaving a reasonable listener puzzled about what the takeaways are supposed to be…

“I think Joe Sixpack’s response is going to be a hearty shrug. After all that has emerged about Trump so far, his approval rating is closely tracking Obama’s approval at the same point in his presidency. To get Mr. Sixpack’s attention you are going to have to do better than this.”
Kyle Smith, National Review

President Trump should be happy. As much as Warren is articulate, obviously intelligent, and energetically supported by Democrats, she would also be far easier to defeat than Joe Biden… Considering Trump's economy, the president is well placed to defeat Warren.”
Tom Rogan, Washington Examiner

A libertarian's take

“After adding in the ultra-millionaire’s tax and factoring in the other capital taxes Warren wants to levy — on financial transactions, on unrealized capital gains, on corporations — we’d be asking every billionaire to hand over more than two-thirds of their total wealth over a 10-year period. If the government actually managed to collect it, their fortunes would rapidly erode — and so would tax collections. The plan might be a good way to smash wealth, but it’s a terrible way to fund the nation’s health-care system…

“If Warren makes it to the White House, and tries to pass a plan, the Congressional Budget Office will eventually attach more reasonable numbers, with more defensible assumptions, sparking an even more spectacular political blowback than the one that greeted Friday’s announcement. Outside of the progressive Twitterati, there isn’t necessarily an enormous constituency for spending $20.5 trillion to herd every American into a national health insurance program; there would be even less support for spending what Warren’s plan would actually cost.”
Megan McArdle, Washington Post

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