Washington D.C., Jul 22, 2019 / 02:01 pm (CNA).- The Department of Health and Human Services has reportedly delayed enforcement of the new Protect Life Rule, which bars public money from taxpayer-funded clinics that refer patients for abortions.
The Associated Press reported that it had received a copy of a notice sent June 20 from HHS to the representatives of the clinics in question. The notice said the government “does not intend to bring enforcement actions” against clinics that are making “good-faith efforts to comply,” the AP reported.
The HHS had on July 15 informed Title X fund recipients that they will no longer be permitted to refer mothers for abortion services, and must keep finances separate from facilities that provide abortions.
Under the new HHS notice, clinics must submit a compliance plan by August, and by mid-September must demonstrate that they are carrying out “most of the new requirements,” the AP reports.
Title X is a federal program created in 1965 that subsidizes family-planning and preventative health services, including contraception, for low-income families. It has been frequently updated and subject to new regulations.
The HHS had originally said last week that the new rule required immediate compliance. By March 2020, abortion facilities will no longer be allowed to co-locate with clinics that receive Title X moneys. Clinics that provide “nondirective counseling” about abortion may still receive funds.
Previously, abortion providers were ineligable to receive Title X funds, and the Supreme Court upheld this restriction in 1991. When President Bill Clinton took office in 1993, his administration changed the program to include abortion providers.
The rule will strip about $60 million in federal funding from Planned Parenthood, whose clinics both refer for abortion services and are co-located with abortion facilities. Planned Parenthood presently receives about one-fifth of the total amount of Title X funds distributed and serves about 40 percent of all clients who benefit from Title X.
Planned Parenthood has chosen to eschew federal Title X funding under the new rule and continue to refer for and perform abortions. The National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association, which represents many of the affected clinics, is challenging the rule in federal court, but the administration says there is currently no legal obstacle to enforcing it, ABC News reports.
Illinois has already announced that the state will provide state funding to abortion clinics and clinics that refer for abortions in the light of new changes to Title X rules, Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced July 18.
Planned Parenthood locations in Illinois received 40 percent of the Title X funds distributed in the state, despite only operating 17 of the more than 70 clinics who received funds each year. Approximately 112,000 people in Illinois acquired birth control through Title X.
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