Pro-lifers rally outside the U.S. Supreme Court in 2014 (Photo: American Life League)

Pro-lifers rally outside the U.S. Supreme Court in 2014 (Photo: American Life League)

The Department of Health and Human Services’ decision to change Title X federal funding rules and stop subsidizing businesses that provide abortions is drawing widespread praise from the faith community.

The rule, which previously was in place under President Reagan, is simple: The hundreds of millions of dollars of annual Title X funding will go only to family planning centers that don’t provide or refer for abortion.

That means all of the abortion businesses that have received federal funding and used it for rent, maintenance, staffing, utilities and advertising – but not actual abortion costs – will be left out.

The proposal, after a time of public comment, will become final.

The change is being filed with the Office of Management and Budget to “ensure compliance” with laws that prohibit federal funds from going toward abortions.

Tax dollars spent on family planning services, including birth control, STD testing and cancer screenings will not be cut, officials said. But the change will drop a requirement that Title X grant recipients provide abortion counseling to patients.

“We commend President Donald Trump for filing this proposal to block facilities that perform abortions from receiving federal dollars for family planning,” said Mat Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel. “President Trump has kept his promise to protect the lives of the unborn and to ensure the abortion industry is no longer supported by taxpayers. This is a positive step toward making the womb a safe place again.”

The federal Hyde Amendment prohibits the use of competitive federal family-planning grant funds for abortion, but organizations such as Planned Parenthood have traditionally used the federal money for other health services while using private money for abortions and related services – sometimes at the same facilities and with the same staff.

HHS also said it was dropping an Obama requirement that warns states against blocking Medicaid funding to abortionists.

The move allows states to regulate their programs.

“Reinstating the pre-2016 standards frees up states to once again decide for themselves what reasonable standards they use to protect Medicaid programs and their beneficiaries,” said Charmaine Yoest, assistant HHS secretary for public affairs.

It’s not the first move against abortion by Trump. Last year he reversed Obama’s bans on states withholding Title X funds for abortion clinics and reinstated a ban on federal funding for organizations performing abortions abroad.

“Americans’ hard-earned tax dollars shouldn’t be used to support abortion. We commend the Trump administration for making good on its promise to ensure this no longer happens,” said Kristen Waggoner, a senior counsel with the Alliance Defending Freedom.

“The Protect Life Rule won’t cut funding for health care clinics by one penny. It will simply ensure women and their families get the most robust care at facilities like community and rural healthcare centers, which exponentially outnumber Planned Parenthood locations nationally 20-1 and are not tainted by constant scandals and misdeeds. The nation’s largest abortion seller, Planned Parenthood, has a long track record of scandal, including covering up the sexual abuse of young girls. It has been under investigation for waste, abuse, and potential fraud and shouldn’t receive any taxpayer money.”

The Knights of Columbus, in a statement, said it is an important step in protecting unborn lives.

“Americans should not be forced to have their tax dollars fund abortion. In fact, Knights of Columbus Marist polling conducted earlier this year found that most Americans believe abortion is morally wrong and six in 10 want an end to its funding with tax dollars. There is a consensus that crosses party lines. Of those polled, four in 10 who identify as pro-choice and more than four in 10 Democrats – along with the overwhelming majority of Republicans – want to see an end to taxpayer funding of abortion.”

Troy Newman, president of Operation Rescue, pointed out there are 266 Planned Parenthood abortion businesses receiving Title X tax money now.

“As someone that researches abortion abuses daily, I know this rule will protect vulnerable women from exploitation and possible harm at Planned Parenthood abortion clinics that masquerade as women’s health facilities,” said Cheryl Sullenger, senior vice president of Operation Rescue. “President Trump promised to defund Planned Parenthood and today he has kept that promise as far as the Title X program is concerned. Thank you, Mr. President!”

Penny Nance, CEO of Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee, noted that 194 members of Congress and 85 pro-life groups had wanted the change.

“This new rule doesn’t reduce Title X dollars, but it does direct funding to service sites like Federally Qualified Health Centers, rural health centers, and nonprofits that are willing to comply with the law. This provides necessary transparency and ensures that Title X dollars are spent on family planning, not abortion,” she said.

She said Planned Parenthood was apoplectic because it views Title X funds as “their personal entitlement.”

Abby Johnson, former Planned Parenthood director and current head of the non-profit And Then There Were None, explained, “Abortion is not healthcare and women deserve better than their government forking over hundreds of millions of dollars to an enormous organization that seeks to strip women of their femininity by telling them abortion is equal to empowerment.”

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