Pregnancy Centers Might Get Title X Family Planning Funds. Here’s How

  • Pregnancy centers across the U.S. are seeking to access Title X funding currently allocated to Planned Parenthood and other health centers providing contraception and abortions.
  • Pregnancy centers may soon be able to access these funds under a proposal by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services revising the guidelines for Title X family planning program funds.
  • Pro-life groups and a number of medical providers are encouraging and partnering with pregnancy centers to access funds.

Pro-life pregnancy centers are looking to tap into Title X family planning program funds following a number of unsuccessful GOP attempts to strip federal funds supporting abortion.

Pregnancy centers may soon be able to access federals funds currently given to abortion organizations following a proposal to revise the current regulations determining where Title X family planning funds are allocated.

The measure — proposed by HHS Secretary Alex M. Azar, II — will withhold funds going to Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers, and strip the current mandate that health facilities provide abortion counseling and referrals, according to a May HHS announcement. The proposal “prohibit[s] referral for abortion as a method of family planning,” according to the announcement.

The HHS proposal will also direct funds to pregnancy and faith-based centers in an effort to “ensure a holistic and health-centered approach,” according to the HHS.

Title X received $286.5 million in federal funds for fiscal year 2017, according to the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association. The funds are allocated to public and private nonprofits on a competitive grant basis. Planned Parenthood and other non-profit family planning groups receive 48 percent of Title X funds, according to the Association.

“They’re getting more sophisticated,” said Guttmacher Institute policy expert Kinsey Hasstedt, referring to pregnancy center operations, Politico reported Sunday.

The Guttmacher Institute is “a research and policy organization committed to advancing sexual and reproductive health and rights globally,” according to its Twitter handle.

There are roughly 2,750 pregnancy centers in the U.S., according to a September report from the Charlotte Lozier Institute. The Charlotte Lozier Institute’s mission is “to identify policies and practices that will protect life and serve both women’s health and family well-being,” according to its website.

Pregnancy centers provided nearly two million people with free care in 2017, according to the report. The centers also offered 679,600 free pregnancy tests in 2017 and provided post-abortion support to 24,100 people, the report reveals.

“I’m using Planned Parenthood’s model, and it’s working,” said Obria Group CEO Kathleen Eaton Bravo, Politico reported.

Obria Group “partner[s] with existing pregnancy medical clinics who share a vision to offer patients a full scope of medical services and to unify under a singular brand,” according to its website. Obria has 35 affiliate clinics and 22 clinics underway in the U.S. The groups has clinics in California, Oregon, Washington, Iowa and Georgia among others.

Obria was denied Title X funding in 2018 because it did not partner with medical centers providing birth control currently mandated by federal guidelines, Politico reported. Obria will again seek funding in 2019, and will partner with groups that provide contraception, according to Politico.

Obria will not partner with abortion clinics, Politico reported.

“There’s a growing trend of these centers becoming more medicalized,” said Andrea Swartzendruber, who surveyed pregnancy centers in Georgia, according to Politico.

Other pro-life groups are encouraging pregnancy centers to seek Title X funding. “We have worked aggressively to encourage the Trump administration to cut off Title X funds to abortion vendors, and to open the door to life-affirming healthcare providers,” Students For Life (SFL) spokeswoman Kristi Hamrick told The Daily Caller News Foundation in an email Monday.

“We absolutely expect that life-affirming healthcare providers will be able to offer real care to women, helping them and their preborn infants, and that the rule changes offer new possibilities far exceeding abortion vendors limited repertoire,” Hamrick added.

The American Medical Association has pushed back against HHS’s proposal. “We are very concerned that the proposed changes, if implemented, would undermine patients’ access to high-quality medical care … and jeopardize public health,”  AMA President James L. Madara wrote in an August letter to Azar.

The HHS’s proposal will likely be finalized in early 2019, Politico reported.

The push for Title X funding reform comes on the heels of a Dec. 10 Supreme Court decline to review three cases attempting to strip state funds going to Planned Parenthood in Louisiana and Kansas. After Planned Parenthood challenged the attempt to disqualify the abortion provider from receiving Medicaid funds, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Planned Parenthood in June 2017.

The ruling remains following the court’s decline to review the cases.

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