Separating Abortion and Family Planning Funding

P.A. 360 of 2002
H.B. 4655 of 2002 – Rep. Mark Jansen
M.C.L. 333.1091
Current Status
Governor Engler signed H.B. 4655 into law on May 23, 2002 and it became effective April 1, 2003.

This legislation creates a priority system when handing out family planning funds. Those organizations that provide family planning services without performing and promoting abortions will be first in line to receive the funds. This does not cut a single dollar of family planning funds, it simply gives funding priority to those agencies least involved in abortion. Legitimate health services are important, however, and organizations that provide and promote abortion will still be eligible for family planning funds. They will just be last in the receiving line. In areas of the state where no other agencies are available to provide family planning funds, abortion-promoting agencies still qualify to receive funds.

For years, prolife citizen-taxpayers have been frustrated by the fact that millions of government dollars in the name of family planning services, go to abortion-promoting organizations like Planned Parenthood. The thrust of “family planning” programs is to promote general reproductive health and prevent pregnancies. However, millions of tax dollars going to Planned Parenthood for these programs subsidize their staff salaries and operational costs, allowing them to carry out their abortion advocacy. Besides being the nation’s top provider of abortions, Planned Parenthood makes no apologies for its position that abortion should be considered part of comprehensive family planning services. For them, abortion is considered a method of birth control. It is time to redirect our tax dollars to health providers who are not abortion advocates.

Rep. Mark Jansen introduced H.B. 4655 to prioritize family planning funds away from abortion providing organizations. The bill was taken up in the House Family & Children Services Committee on June 19, 2001 and October 2, 2001 for testimony only. The committee reported the bill to the full House floor by a 5 to 4 vote on October 23, 2001. A vote was taken by the full House on December 13, 2001 and was passed 67-36 with 6 legislators not voting.

H.B. 4655 was then referred to the Senate Families, Mental Health, & Human Services Committee. A hearing was held on April 30, 2002 where the bill was amended to address concerns raised by the administration. The substitute bill was reported favorably by a 4 to 3 vote. The full Senate placed the bill on the order of third reading on May 1, 2002 and passed it by a 23-14 vote on May 2. On Right to Life’s 2002 Legislative Day, May 7, the House concurred in the Senate amendments by a 67-38 vote. Governor Engler signed H.B. 4655 into law on May 23, 2002.

H.B. 5934, introduced by Rep. Mark Jansen on June 21, 2000 directs that state health funding for “family planning” programs be allocated first to organizations that do not do any of the following:

· perform or refer for abortions;

· publicly advocate for abortion (lobby, political activity, file lawsuits);

· or maintain a policy position that “family planning” includes abortion.

The bill was introduced as an alternative to an amendment Rep. Jansen planned to offer to the annual budget bill for the Department of Community Health. That budget disperses over $15 million each year for “family planning” programs. The amendment to the bill was withdrawn in lieu of H.B. 5934 being introduced. A hearing on the bill was scheduled for 11/28/00, but was subsequently cancelled. H.B. 5934 died in committee at the end of the 2000 session.

Public Funding of Abortion Counseling – Title X
A substantial portion of family planning programs in Michigan is funded through combined federal-state Title X dollars. These programs must provide the Clinton mandated “options counseling,” which includes abortion referrals. Other pregnancy prevention programs, however, are funded entirely by state dollars. These programs are precluded from counseling for abortions based on language of Public Act 293 of 1994, and as consistent with the policy of the Engler administration which excludes abortion as a method of family planning.

Previous federal regulations prohibiting abortion referrals by family planning clinics which receive Title X (ten) grant funds, commonly known as the “gag rule,” were rescinded by President Clinton on January 22, 1993. Clinics, which receive the funds to provide pre-pregnancy family planning services, may now freely counsel and refer pregnant women for abortions. Thus, a program designed to help reduce unintended pregnancies, and thereby reduce abortions, is now using tax dollars to refer for and promote abortion as a method of birth control.

Title X was passed into law by Congress in 1970. The clear and express purpose of Title X was to provide pre-pregnancy services. The authorizing language of the original Title X law includes the following language of section 1008: “None of the funds appropriated under this title shall be used in programs where abortion is a method of family planning.”

Michigan congressman John Dingell was the author of section 1008 in 1970. During discussion of Title X on the House floor, Rep. Dingell made the following statements: “With the ‘prohibition of abortion’ amendment – Title X, section 1008 – the committee members clearly intend that abortion is not to be encouraged or promoted in any way through this legislation. Programs which include abortion as a method of family planning are not eligible for funds allocated through this act.”

“If there is any direct relationship between family planning and abortion, it would be this, that properly operating family planning programs should reduce the incidence of abortion.” Congressional Record 37375 (1970)

Based on reports from the General Accounting Office that Section 1008 was not being complied with, the Reagan Administration in 1988 proposed changes in the rules governing Title X grants. These rules clarified the separation of activities that related to pre- and post-conception services. The rules prohibited Title X programs from discussing abortion with clients found to be pregnant, unless a physical condition existed which threatened the client’s life or health. Physicians were always free to discuss abortion as a necessary response to medically complicated pregnancy.

The ACLU, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and others challenged the constitutionality of the rules. Several cases were brought in different federal courts, leading eventually to the rules being suspended, and a case being heard by the U.S. Supreme Court. On May 23, 1991 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Rust v. Sullivan that the Title X regulations were constitutional. Proponents of tax-funded abortion counseling claim that the restrictions on abortion referrals under Title X are a restriction of clinic employees’ freedom of speech. The Court rejected this argument, noting that abortion proponents may advocate abortion in any context outside of a Title X program. None of the agencies receiving Title X funds have a constitutional right to those funds. Abortion advocates have a choice as to whether they will operate with private funds to promote abortion as birth control, or operate with public funds and commit to pregnancy prevention methods.

In response to that decision, on June 3, 1991, Rep. Tim Walberg offered an amendment to the public health department appropriations bill requiring that Michigan family planning grants operate under the same regulations. In a June 4, 1991 letter, Public Health Director, Vernice Davis Anthony indicated that the department would implement the Title X counseling limits on all agencies receiving family planning funds through the state. This was somewhat necessary since both federal Title X funds and state general funds were combined to provide grants. Rep. Walberg withdrew his amendment based on assurances in the letter.