WASHINGTON – Arizona advocates said they anticipate little immediate effect on funding after President Donald Trump’s signing of a resolution Thursday that opens the door to states denying federal dollars to family planning facilities that provide abortions.
The resolution is the most recent congressional review act signed by the president, a fast-track way for Congress to overturn regulations enacted by the previous administration on its way out the door.
In this case it was an Obama administration rule, enacted in December, that prohibited states from denying funds to any entity that was capable of providing the family planning services funded by Title X.
Abortion is not mentioned in either the Obama regulations or the act overturning them, but both sides were clear that abortion was the issue.
Rep. Diane Black, R-Tennessee, said the act signed by Trump Thursday was aimed at “abortion-centric facilities like Planned Parenthood.”
“This bill is simply about states’ rights, and I am pleased to see President Trump putting the American people … back in the driver’s seat, empowering states like Tennessee to steer their Title X funds away from abortion-centric facilities like Planned Parenthood,” said Black, the lead sponsor of House Joint Resolution 43.
A statement from Planned Parenthood Vice President Dawn Laguens, meanwhile, said that, “Four million people depend on the Title X family planning program, and by signing this bill, President Trump disregards their health and well-being.”
Title X provides federal family planning funds to grantees in each state, which then allocate the funds to providers in their states.
Those funds are used to provide low-income people with affordable family-related healthcare services, which include, but are not limited to, regular gynecological care, birth control and pregnancy testing.
Since its introduction in 1970, the program has explicitly prohibited use of Title X funds to pay for abortions. However, the money can be used to support facilities that provide the other family planning services as well.
Arizona gets three Title X grants a year. They totaled about $5.3 million last year, with the largest share going the nonpartisan, nonprofit Arizona Family Health Partnership, which got about $4.5 million.
CEO Bre Thomas said the partnership split that money between seven family planning entities last year, including a little more than $2 million to Planned Parenthood Arizona. Planned Parenthood uses the funds in five of its 10 clinics. Two of those five Title X-funded clinics provide abortions, she said.
Thomas said Congress is “looking to defund Planned Parenthood” through “a variety of mechanisms,” including Thursday’s legislation. But she said that because Title X funds are distributed through non-governmental agencies in Arizona, political figures do not determine which facilities get funded. As a result, she does not “anticipate a huge change” in Title X funding in the state.
Pro-life members of Arizona’s congressional delegation did not respond to requests Thursday for comment on the president’s action.
But Thomas agrees with Laguens that if Planned Parenthood were to be defunded, there would be grave consequences.
Thomas pointed to states like Texas and Indiana where attempts to defund Planned Parenthood clinics have been followed by increased maternal death rates and HIV outbreaks.
She said it is impossible to know the exact effect the loss of Planned Parenthood in Arizona would have, but that “it will have a significant impact … because the rest of the facilities can’t absorb all of those women and families.”
“The best way to reduce the number of abortions or unintended pregnancies is to fund access to family planning services,” Thomas said. “We are the preventative measure.”