Planned Parenthood Subsidized by Title X?

According to the Wall Street Journal (5/23/08), The Federal government distributes about $280 million a year among the thousands of clinics to subsidize the cost of birth control, cancer screening, HIV testing and other reproductive care for low-income patients.  Known as Title X, the program serves five million men and women a year.  By law the money can’t be used for abortion procedures.

But about one third of Title X patients receive their care at reproductive health clinics run by Planned Parenthood, which is also the nation’s largest abortion provider.  Critics say the federal grants indirectly subsidize Planned Parenthood’s abortion services by keeping a steady stream of money flowing into the clinics.

President Ronald Reagan imposed rules over two decades ago that barred clinics that received Title X money from performing abortions or referring patients to abortion clinics.  Opponents filed suit, and the regulations were put on hold for years as the court battle played out.  The United States Supreme Court eventually upheld the regulations – but a year and a half later, President Clinton rescinded them.

Since Mr. Bush took office, activists on the right have been pleading with him to reinstate the Reagan-era rules.  In one of his first official acts as President, he imposed restrictions on foreign family-planning aid, preventing U.S. grants from going to groups that perform or promote abortion.  He has declined, however, to implement that rule domestically. 

Planned Parenthood of America relies on government grants and contracts, including Title X, for roughly a third of its nearly $337 million budget, according to its recent financial support.  Before the Bush administration is over, a final push is being waged to pressure the President to use his executive authority to order the change.