As is its penchant, the nation’s largest abortion provider is once again waging a political-action campaign, this time to drum up outrage against the Trump administration for depriving the group of federal subsidies.
Planned Parenthood — which at last tally and according to its own reporting performs about 330,000 abortion procedures each year — is slated to withdraw on Monday from the Title X family-planning program. The group currently receives about $60 million each year under Title X, less than 15 percent of its overall federal funding, most of which comes through Medicaid reimbursements.
The decision comes after the Department of Health and Human Services instituted a rule requiring all family-planning providers to financially separate abortion procedures from the rest of their work in order to receive benefits under Title X. It also prohibits groups from referring elsewhere for abortions. So far, courts have refused to block the HHS policy, despite lawsuits from Planned Parenthood and more than 20 Democrat-governed states demanding that they do so.
Though its opponents assert otherwise, the Trump administration is not forcing Planned Parenthood out of a federal spending program. It is not targeting one particular group for eviction from Title X out of disregard for women. And it is certainly not cutting funding for women’s health care; Title X spending will not be reduced by one penny.
Rather, the administration is ensuring that rules already in place barring the federal funding of abortion procedures actually take effect in practice. Trump’s HHS is offering Planned Parenthood a choice: Does the group wish to financially benefit from providing abortions, or does it wish to continue receiving money under Title X?
The answer is revealing. Planned Parenthood ritually promotes, both in public statements and in its annual reports, the false statistic that abortion accounts for a mere 3 percent of its work. (Even if that were true, and not a cleverly manufactured data point, one wonders why we should care whether 300,000 abortions constitute 3 or 33 or 93 percent of the group’s business. It is the procedure itself, not the percentage, to which we object.)
But if abortion were indeed such a small and insignificant part of Planned Parenthood’s grand mission, as we are assured, would it be such a sacrifice to financially separate it from the rest of the business? If women’s health-care needs were so dire, and the Title X program were so essential to the group’s success, surely it would be a price worth paying.
Planned Parenthood has decided that it is not. Though the abortion-rights movement concentrates its rhetoric with laser-like precision on the mantra of “women’s health care,” in the end it cares most about abortion. What other explanation could there be for the group’s resistance to setting aside this one procedure for the sake of obtaining funding for the rest of its operations?
This isn’t the first time the group has displayed recalcitrance on this question. In the spring of 2017, Ivanka Trump met with then-Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards and suggested compromise: Planned Parenthood should split into two financially distinct groups, one with a smaller arm to provide abortions and the other to provide women’s health care, the latter of which could retain government funding. According to a New York Times report, Richards refused: “Planned Parenthood officials said they thought Ms. Trump’s advice was naïve, failing to understand how central reproductive choice was to the group’s mission.”
And just last month, Planned Parenthood’s president, Leana Wen, was dismissed by the board of directors apparently for having been insufficiently political and for focusing too much on expanding health-care services rather than promoting abortion.
Planned Parenthood and its supporters would have us believe two contradictory statements at once. That, first, the group is an average provider of women’s health care, offering a vast array of services and having hardly anything to do with abortion. But that, second, abortion is a central component of Planned Parenthood’s work and that it would be a betrayal of its mission to financially distinguish it from the rest of the bottom line.
But thanks to the HHS rule, the group now has to pick one message, and it has chosen the latter. It is Planned Parenthood, then, and not Donald Trump, removing itself from Title X by refusing to comply with the conscience protections, demanding instead that it be compensated for providing a procedure that millions of Americans find morally objectionable. And so on Monday, with much fanfare and dogmatic insistence on the anti-woman cruelty of our president, the group will withdraw from Title X — and women’s health care will be better for it.