WASHINGTON — The public comment period on the Protect Life
Rule, a proposed revision to Title X regulations, opened June 1 and will
close July 31.
The Office of Population Affairs, part of the U.S.
Department of Health and Human Services, oversees the Title X Family
In May, the Trump administration proposed
reinstating Reagan-era regulations to prevent funds appropriated under
Title X from being used in programs that include abortion as a method of
family planning or that make abortion referrals. However, the changes
would not affect the amount of money spent on Title X grants.
an agency proposes changes to regulations, it specifies a comment
period, usually between 30 and 60 days, during which the public may
submit comments about the rule. After the comment period closes, the
agency will consider the new data and arguments it received and either
terminate, revise or proceed with the proposed changes.
to the Office of Population Affairs, the proposed revision is based on
the most accurate interpretation of the Family Planning Services and
Population Research Act of 1970, which enacted Title X. Section 1008 of
this act states that “none of the funds appropriated under this title
shall be used in programs where abortion is a method of family
After looking at this text, the purpose of the statute
and the legislative history of the 1970 law, the agency said it has
decided that “that prohibition includes any action that directly or
indirectly facilitates, encourages, or supports in any way the use of
abortion as a method of family planning.” Since current regulations
regarding Title X only prevent money from funding activities that
directly facilitate abortions, the change is aimed at bringing the
regulations in line with the intent of Section 1008.
The proposed Protect Life Rule would reinstate Title X restrictions issued in 1988 by President Ronald Reagan.
these proposed changes, the Office of Population Affairs, or OPA, said
it hopes to address several problems with the current regulations. Under
the current regulations, Title X programs must offer abortion
counseling and referrals to abortion clinics to pregnant women upon
request. The OPA believes that doing so requires that Title X money be
used to facilitate abortion, so facilitating abortion contradicts its
interpretation of Section 1008.
Concerns regarding the fungibility
of money also motivated some of the proposed rule changes, according to
the OPA. Current regulations only require that family planning
organizations that both receive Title X money and do non-Title X
abortion-related activities carefully keep the money for these two
According to a poll conducted by McLaughlin
& Associates, 48 percent of Americans favored preventing taxpayer
funds from going to clinics that perform or refer for abortions, while
40 percent were opposed.