Healthcare

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. 

{mosads}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 Trump 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 Warren (Mass.), Patty Murray (Wash.) and Maggie Hassan (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 Lee (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 Donnelly (Ind.), Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.) and Joe Manchin (W.Va.). Sen. Doug Jones (Ala.) also did not sign on.

Tags Abortion Anti-abortion movements Barbara Lee Donald Trump Elizabeth Warren Heidi Heitkamp Joe Donnelly Joe Manchin Maggie Hassan Patty Murray Planned Parenthood Title X

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