Dems warn against changes to federal family planning program

Dems warn against changes to federal family planning program
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More than 200 Democratic lawmakers from the House and Senate are warning the Trump administration against making changes to a federal family planning program for low-income Americans. 

Anti-abortion groups and Republicans have urged the administration to bring back Reagan-era regulations that banned organizations receiving Title X funding from promoting or referring patients for abortions. It would also require funding recipients have a physical and financial separation from abortion facilities. 

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In separate letters sent to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar Tuesday, Democrats argue these restrictions would be harmful for patients, especially those who go to Planned Parenthood. 

"Calls to reinstate these policies directly acknowledge this effort as an opportunity for President TrumpDonald John TrumpPapadopoulos on AG's new powers: 'Trump is now on the offense' Pelosi uses Trump to her advantage Mike Pence delivers West Point commencement address MORE to fulfill his pledge to 'defund Planned Parenthood,' whose health centers remain an essential part of the family planning safety net, serving 40 percent of Title X patients," wrote 45 Senate Democrats, led by Sens. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenTrump defense pick expected to face tense confirmation 2020 Democrats target federal ban on abortion funding Gillibrand seizes on abortion debate to jump-start campaign MORE (Mass.), Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayOvernight Health Care — Presented by PCMA — Senators unveil sweeping bipartisan health care package | House lawmakers float Medicare pricing reforms | Dems offer bill to guarantee abortion access Bipartisan senators reveal sweeping health care package Senate chairman says bipartisan health care package coming Thursday MORE (Wash.) and Maggie HassanMargaret (Maggie) HassanBipartisan senators reveal sweeping health care package 'American Taliban' released from prison 'American Taliban' set to be released after years behind bars MORE (N.H.)  

Other Title X providers would not be able to absorb the patients who would lose access to care through Planned Parenthood, the House Democrats agreed. 

A ban on abortion referrals would "reverse progress made in critical areas," including the declining unintended pregnancy rates in the U.S. 

"We strongly oppose efforts to undermine the integrity of the Title X program and harm the millions of people who rely on it for care," wrote 166 House Democrats, led by Reps. Joseph Crowley (N.Y.) and Barbara LeeBarbara Jean LeeLee, Sanders introduce bill to tax Wall Street transactions Overnight Defense: Trump officials say efforts to deter Iran are working | Trump taps new Air Force secretary | House panel passes defense bill that limits border wall funds House Appropriations passes defense bill that would limit funds for border wall, pull US support from Yemen war MORE (Calif.) 

Anti-abortion groups and Republicans expect the administration to issue the regulations as a way to chip away at federal funding for Planned Parenthood. 

While federal law prevents the use of taxpayer dollars for abortions, anti-abortion advocates argue that money is fungible and can still indirectly support abortions. 

"The result of this policy is simply to separate the Title X network of family planning providers from abortionists like Planned Parenthood — the nation's largest abortion chain," the Susan B. Anthony List and other anti-abortion groups wrote in a letter to Azar earlier this month. 

"For far too long the Title X Family Planning Program has been integrated with abortion centers. It is time to act swiftly to disentangle abortion centers from the Title X network." 

Notably absent from the Senate letter were three vulnerable Democrats up for reelection: Sens. Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyK Street giants scoop up coveted ex-lawmakers Obama honors 'American statesman' Richard Lugar Former GOP senator Richard Lugar dies at 87 MORE (Ind.), Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampOn The Money: Stocks sink on Trump tariff threat | GOP caught off guard by new trade turmoil | Federal deficit grew 38 percent this fiscal year | Banks avoid taking position in Trump, Dem subpoena fight Fight over Trump's new NAFTA hits key stretch Former senators launching effort to help Dems win rural votes MORE (N.D.) and Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinSenate Democrats to House: Tamp down the impeachment talk The Hill's Morning Report - Trump says no legislation until Dems end probes Senate panel approves Interior nominee over objections from Democrats MORE (W.Va.). Sen. Doug Jones (Ala.) also did not sign on.