Ken Paxton

AG Paxton Commends Trump Administration Proposal to Allow Health Providers to Follow Conscience in Federal Title X

Thursday, May 24, 2018 – Austin

Attorney General Ken Paxton today applauded a Trump administration proposal to continue updating Title X regulations by allowing family planning services that receive Title X funding to eliminate abortion counseling and referrals from their services. As previously announced, the proposal also ensures statutory prohibition on funding programs that advocate for abortion as a form of “family planning,” and mirrors requirements put in place during the Reagan-era and upheld by the Supreme Court in Rust v. Sullivan.

The proposed update would not only require clear financial and physical separation between Title X funded projects and facilities that provide abortions, but would also protect Title X health providers by eliminating the requirement that they provide abortion counseling and referrals regardless of their moral or religious beliefs. Individuals would also be permitted to qualify for Title X services if their employer-sponsored insurance does not cover certain contraceptive services due to moral or religious beliefs.

One impetus for this proposed change stems from a letter Attorney General Paxton sent to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) earlier this month. In the letter, Attorney General Paxton alleged that HHS discriminated against Texas by denying Title X funds based on Texans’ desire to follow to their consciences and exclude abortion counseling and referral from family planning services.  The proposal expressly referred to AG Paxton’s letter when announcing that such provisions cannot be enforced against objecting applicants or grantees.

“It is imperative that citizens have access to health-centered family planning services, and it is just as important that Title X health providers are protected from a government directed violation of religious and moral convictions,” Attorney General Paxton said. “Abortion and family planning cannot be conflated without dismissing the sanctity of life. By scrapping the requirement that health providers must promote abortion as an option, President Trump has taken a large step toward preserving individual freedoms and the respect for human life, including unborn life.”   

In a recent letter to HHS, Attorney General Paxton encouraged the agency to implement rules restoring religious freedom and conscience rights for all Americans. The Obama administration denied the conscience rights of Texans when it excluded Texas from Title X funding because of state laws that, like federal laws, respect the sanctity of life among the unborn.

The Trump administration proposal – which the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services filed with the Office of the Federal Register – updates the regulations governing the Title X program to ensure compliance with its statutory prohibition on taxpayer funding of programs where abortion is a method of family planning, and no longer requires that health providers give counseling or referrals for abortion. The proposal does not cut any funding for family planning services provided the organization disentangles taxpayer funds from abortion as a method of family planning, as required by Title X law.