Publius / September 17, 2015

Bush’s Answer to Funding Planned Parenthood

It’s a good, if incomplete, idea.

There was an important, if underplayed, moment in last night’s debate, when Jeb Bush declared a partial solution to the debate over funding Planned Parenthood: Title X funding. National Review’s David French explains, “Planned Parenthood gets the vast majority of its federal funding through two programs, Title X and Medicaid. While the majority of Planned Parenthood’s public funding comes through Medicaid and almost certainly can’t be cut off absent act of Congress, a significant minority makes its way to Planned Parenthood through Title X, and the president alone — acting through the executive branch — can choke off those funds easily. In 1988, the Reagan administration HHS promulgated a rule that prohibited Title X projects ‘from engaging in counseling concerning, referrals for, and activities advocating abortion as a method of family planning, and require[d] such projects to maintain an objective integrity and independence from the prohibited abortion activities by the use of separate facilities, personnel, and accounting records.’ The regulation was directly aimed at Planned Parenthood’s practice of evading Title X’s prohibitions against funding abortions by — as [Yuval] Levin explained — ‘formally separating its abortion clinics and its other family planning services, even when those are located in the same facility and essentially funded jointly.’ The Left called it the abortion ‘gag rule’ and challenged it in court. They lost. This critical pro-life victory was short-lived, however, as the Clinton administration promptly repealed the rule. But what Clinton repealed, a new president can re-impose — without going through the maddening process of dealing with an unfortunately unreliable Congress. Jeb was right to bring up the Reagan Rule, and the other candidates should pledge to begin the rulemaking process to restore it — beginning on day one of their first term.”

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