The following are excerpts of remarks delivered by Congressman Chris Smith (R-N.J.) on the House floor May 21, 2018. Published with permission:
Last Friday, the Trump Administration announced its intention to reassert and promulgate portions of President Ronald Reagan’s modest but necessary life-affirming Title X Rule—a policy designed to ensure that taxpayers don’t fund, facilitate or promote abortion in America’s $286 million-per-year family planning program.
This new/old policy comes at a time when huge majorities of Americans—over 60 percent according to major polls—strongly oppose the use of taxpayer funds for abortion.
The Trump/Reagan policy—now called the Protect Life Rule—comes at a time when the high utilization of ultrasound imaging of the child in the womb has provided spectacular clarity and empathy and love for the baby.
First baby pictures today—the kind you put on the door of your refrigerator—are of unborn babies. Seeing is believing. No-one can seriously deny anymore that unborn children are alive, dynamic, precious, a miracle—and defenseless.
Created by Congress in 1970, Title X of the Public Health Service Act authorized taxpayer funds to assist “voluntary family planning projects” but made absolutely clear in the statute that federal funds were prohibited from being spent on “programs where abortion is a method of family planning.”
As Title X was administered, that didn’t happen.
To faithfully implement both the spirit and letter of the law, President Ronald Reagan issued a rule in 1988 that included physical separation of abortion activities from federally-funded family planning projects.
In response, the American abortion industry sued to get hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies—and lost. On May 23, 1991—27 years ago this Wednesday—the U.S. Supreme Court in Rust v. Sullivan affirmed the constitutionality of the Reagan Title X Rule.
Tragically, President Bill Clinton by executive order reversed the Reagan policy. He not only authorized abortion clinics and family planning activities under the same roof—co-location—but went further, mandating that Title X recipients refer for abortion—an egregious violation of conscience rights protected under federal law. Thus, by requiring abortion referrals, family planning service providers who oppose abortion were and are today precluded all participation in the federal program.
Today, hundreds of abortion clinics are co-located as Title X family planning facilities. For example, 266 of Planned Parenthood’s abortion clinics are subsidized by U.S. taxpayers in the Title X program to the tune of about $56 million each year. Planned Parenthood is an organization that is directly responsible for over seven million deaths of unborn children, a staggering loss of children’s lives.
If past is prologue, I fully expect an organized, aggressive, willful distortion of the Protect Life Rule.
Nevertheless, in the spirit of honest debate and civil discourse, I urge opponents and the news media to be clear as to what this rule actually does and does not do.
According to the White House, the new Protect Life Rule:
• Will physically and financially separate family planning clinics from abortion and make other important reforms.
• Will safeguard the conscience rights of providers, by eliminating the egregious, illegal, mandate that requires all participants in the program to refer pregnant women to abortion.
• Will not prohibit counseling that may include conversation about abortion. This would be in keeping with guidance issued by the George H.W. Bush Administration that affirmed “Nothing in these regulations is to prevent a woman from receiving complete medical information about her condition from a physician.”
Cardinal Timothy Dolan, chair of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities summed it up best: “…For too long Title X has been used to subsidize the abortion industry. We need to draw a bright line between what happens before a pregnancy begins and what happens after a child has been created……Abortion always takes the life of a child and often harms the mother, her surviving children and other family and friends as well…”
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