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 TrumpTrump faces high stakes in meeting with Erdoğan amid impeachment drama Democrats worry they don't have right candidate to beat Trump Trump threatening to fire Mulvaney: report 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 WarrenDemocrats worry they don't have right candidate to beat Trump Overnight Energy: BLM staff face choice of relocation or resignation as agency moves | Trump says he's 'very much into climate' | EPA rule would expand limits on scientific studies Krystal Ball credits Gabbard's upswing in 2020 race to 'feckless' Democratic establishment MORE (Mass.), Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayRetirement bill blocked in Senate amid fight over amendments Senate Democrats call on White House to abandon plan to collect DNA from migrants Overnight Health Care: Judge temporarily blocks Alabama near-total abortion ban | Sanders dismisses calls for 'Medicare for All' funding plan | Dems urge Trump not to back down on vaping flavor ban MORE (Wash.) and Maggie HassanMargaret (Maggie) HassanHillicon Valley: Facebook launches 'News Tab' | Senate passes bill to take on 'deepfakes' | Schumer outlines vision for electric cars Senate passes legislation to combat 'deepfake' videos Hillicon Valley: Senators seek national security review of TikTok | TikTok denies claims of Chinese government influence | CNN chief rips Facebook policy on political ads | Dem questions DHS' handling of personal data 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 LeeCongress should lift the ban on medical cannabis access for military veterans House Democrats launch process to replace Cummings on Oversight panel Democratic lawmakers, 2020 candidates pay tribute to Conyers 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 DonnellyWatchdog accuses pro-Kavanaugh group of sending illegal robotexts in 2018 Lobbying world Trump nominees meet fiercest opposition from Warren, Sanders, Gillibrand MORE (Ind.), Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampThe Hill's Morning Report — Biden steadies in third debate as top tier remains the same Trump wins 60 percent approval in rural areas of key states Pence to push new NAFTA deal in visit to Iowa MORE (N.D.) and Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinFormer coal exec Don Blankenship launches third-party presidential bid Centrist Democrats seize on state election wins to rail against Warren's agenda Overnight Energy: Senate eyes nixing 'forever chemicals' fix from defense bill | Former Obama EPA chief named CEO of green group | Senate reviews Interior, FERC nominees criticized on ethics MORE (W.Va.). Sen. Doug Jones (Ala.) also did not sign on.