Opinion Columns & Blogs

The Protect Life Rule restores family planning

Rep. Ron Estes

Rep. Ron Estes
Rep. Ron Estes U.S. House Office of Photoraphy

In May, the Trump administration announced new guidelines for the Title X family planning program dubbed the Protect Life Rule to ensure tax dollars meant for family planning are used for family planning and no longer go to provide abortions. As one of the leaders in Congress to urge the adoption of new guidelines, I was proud to see the administration heed the calls of millions of Americans in announcing the Protect Life Rule. However in a recent editorial (Oct. 26 Eagle), former Health and Human Services Secretary and Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius completely missed the mark in explaining what the new rule will actually do.

The Title X program was created in 1970 to provide family planning services to low income women. Currently, Congress approves roughly $280 million to provide family planning services like education, counseling, health screenings and health care. For many years, pro-life protections like the Hyde Amendment sought to ensure tax dollars, including those dedicated for Title X funds, would not go to provide abortions.

However, Clinton-era Title X regulations have sadly mandated that all grantees refer abortions as part of their family planning services and created loopholes allowing Title X funding to flow to organizations which provide abortions, such as Planned Parenthood.

Under these Clinton regulations, Planned Parenthood for example has been able to receive an average $56 million from Title X tax dollars every year, while conducting 320,000 abortions annually. The status quo clearly violates the intent of the Title X Family Planning Program because abortion is not family planning. Plain and simple.

Thanks to the Trump administration, we can now turn the page on this sad chapter.

The Protect Life Rule mandates that Title X money be used to provide legitimate family planning services and requires that Title X grant recipients be physically and financially separate from facilities that provide abortions, closing for good the loophole that has allowed organizations like Planned Parenthood to receive Title X funding for abortions.

These guidelines are similar to those implemented by the Reagan administration, which were upheld by the Supreme Court in 1991.

Implementing the Protect Life Rule will save innocent lives and also increase safeguards for victims of sexual assault by requiring Title X recipients to comply with state and local laws regarding the reporting of related crimes.

Implementing the Protect Life Rule will not cut any funds that go toward family planning to support mothers and families every day. To suggest otherwise is a politically motivated lie.

In contrast to Sebelius’ column, the Protect Life Rule would also have no impact on access to contraception.

While this argument may be effective in stirring up passions and votes, facts matter. In fact, the Protect Life Rule requires that in order to qualify for Title X funds, a grantee must provide a broad range of family planning methods, which includes contraceptives. The doomsday rhetoric of Sebelius and others doesn’t line up with the facts.

For generations, Kansans have helped lead the pro-life movement. Sebelius should know this firsthand. Instead of pushing old lies and scare tactics, our former governor should applaud guidelines which return Title X tax dollars to their intended purpose of helping low income women with needed family planning services.

Ron Estes, R-Wichita, represents Kansas' 4th District in the U.S. House of Representatives.