Today Planned Parenthood, the ostensible health care organization which seems more like a branch of the Democratic party these days, announced they would no longer be participating in the federal government’s Title X family planning programming.
It’s good news, and not just for the pro-life side of the abortion debate who can tout a long-sought victory over what they saw as taxpayer funding for abortions (federal dollars can’t be used for abortions, but critics argue that funding for a group that provides abortions frees up non-government money for abortions).
The move was prompted by the Trump administration implementing a new rule after a federal appeals court lifted an injunction on its enforcement:
The rule does not prohibit medical providers from discussing abortion with patients, but prevents them from telling patients where they can obtain one. The rule’s requirements also include financial separation from facilities that provide abortion, designating abortion counseling as optional instead of standard practice, and limiting which staff members can discuss abortion with patients. Clinics would have until next March to separate their office space and examination rooms from the physical facilities of providers that offer abortions.
While Planned Parenthood may be taking a financial hit – Title X funding reportedly makes up about 15 percent of all of the group’s federal dollars, Planned Parenthood received about 25 percent of all Title X dollars – the less dependent groups like that are on government funding the less susceptible they are to the whims of politics.
Setting aside for a moment the red-hot disagreement over the morality of the services Planned Parenthood provided, charitable groups which seek to provide services for the social good are often dependent on federal dollars.
Those dollars always come with strings attached, and those strings are usually attached to the political feelings of the moment.
It’s gotten to the point where many of these non-government organizations, or NGO’s, are almost operated as branches of the government.
Planned Parenthood will still get government money in the U.S. – both from the federal government and from the various states – and those dollars will still have strings attached. But leaving Title X means the federal government, and whoever happens to be in charge of it at a given moment, have less leverage.
Planned Parenthood and its supporters should see that as a victory.
More groups should seek to get out from under the federal government’s thumb.
I’d rather all of these groups have more freedom to operate how they see fit. The debate over whether their actions should be legal is a separate policy question.