Published October 6, 2021
If there is any common ground on abortion, it consists of this: People shouldn’t be forced to assist or pay for other people’s abortions and abortion shouldn’t be used as a method of birth control. This position, held by a stable majority of Americans, recognizes the serious moral implications of intentionally ending a human life in the womb, even among those who believe some circumstances can justify it.
But not President Biden and Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra. They displayed their abortion extremism yet again this Monday when the administration repealed a Trump-era regulation governing the federal family-planning grant program known as Title X. Although Title X is historically a huge infrastructure-builder and client-multiplier for Planned Parenthood, they were unwilling to follow clear rules preventing taxpayer dollars from subsidizing the overhead for abortion operations and prohibiting self-interested referrals designed to generate abortion business. Because Biden and Becerra answer to Big Abortion before the American people, they changed the rules, ignored the law, and obliterated what little common ground that was left in the abortion debate.
If abortion were only a teensy-weensy part of Planned Parenthood’s operations, as they falsely claim, they could have easily separated their abortion operations from family-planning functions or dropped abortion altogether. Instead, under the Trump-administration regulations, and for the first time in 50 years, they dropped out of the Title X program. As expected, people were still able to get subsidized contraceptive services elsewhere, including at clinics that provide more comprehensive women’s services, such as at federally qualified health centers. Planned Parenthood dropped out of the program because abortion is not just something they do; it is what they are. Does Planned Parenthood decline to perform repeat abortions on women who become pregnant after not using any contraceptives? Of course not. In addition to being a massive moneymaker for the organization, they see abortion as the ultimate expression of family planning, not as an aberration or failure of it. And when asked to choose, Planned Parenthood chose its abortion business over their Title X clients.
The federal government, by contrast, is generally barred by law from funding abortions, and the Title X program specifically prohibits federal funds from being used “where abortion is a method of family planning.” Family-planning clinics that refer and offer abortion services on demand, are per se places where abortion is treated as a method of family planning. Indeed, the biggest abortion factories in the country aren’t shy about this link, they call themselves “Planned Parenthood” for crying out loud! Such deep abortion entanglement with family planning makes them flatly ineligible for Title X funds, but Biden and Becerra just don’t care about the law when it involves abortion. Not only did they undo commonsense rules requiring physical and financial separation between abortion and Title X services, they went further and now require program participants to provide abortion counseling and referrals and American taxpayers must pay for it.
To understand the depth of this administration’s brazenness, just imagine similar behavior in another context. What if the government began to not just allow but also require a federally funded alcohol-recovery program to refer patients to local liquor stores and bars upon request? If you agree that such referrals would be preposterous, what if the program went further and actually provided the alcohol to all requesting patients — for a fee, of course — on the taxpayer-funded premises? The situation would jump from preposterous to downright evil. But the difference here is that Planned Parenthood, Biden, and Becerra see abortion not as an evil that is limited by law and public policy, but as an unqualified good that everyone must be forced to subsidize and affirm.
Here’s the proof. In just a few short months in power, the administration has:
- revoked the Mexico City policy barring funding of abortion advocacy abroad;
- abandoned a lawsuit against a hospital that illegally forced a nurse to assist in an abortion;
- restored $200 million in Medicaid funds to a state that lost the funds for unlawfully forcing people (even nuns) to buy abortion insurance;
- eliminated requirements for transparency in abortion insurance billing such that parents might never know if they are paying for their daughters’ abortions;
- promised to repeal the Hyde amendment’s prohibition on federal funding of abortion;
- sued to block Texas’s Heartbeat law and increased Title X funds to Texas clinics on an emergency basis (thereby acknowledging that yes, abortion was being used as a method of family planning); and
- refused to acknowledge that partial-birth abortion is illegal under federal law.
The Title X action is thus merely the latest in a series of radical moves on abortion by the Biden administration. If you are wondering whether this extremism will ever end, the answer is that it won’t — not until there is a dramatic change of heart or a dramatic change of leaders. With each new pro-abortion outrage, the first outcome becomes all the more unlikely, and the second, all the more so.
Roger Severino is a Senior Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.