The Lord works in mysterious ways … but that’s not true of healthy markets. In the years of battling over Planned Parenthood’s access to Title X funding, its advocates insisted that defunding the abortion-mill giant would leave poor women without any access to contraception and family planning. Planned Parenthood’s opponents argued that Title X funding would remain the same and provide an incentive for non-abortionists to provide those services.
The markets won that argument, the Washington Post reports, but with a unique twist:
Eight independent Texas-based pregnancy centers merged earlier this year to form a chain called The Source. With Christian women’s health centers in Houston, Dallas, San Antonio and Austin, the nonprofit organization plans to offer a full array of medical services, to include testing for sexually transmitted diseases, first-trimester prenatal care and contraception choices. …
Planned Parenthood announced in August its plans to forgo about $60 million in Title X family planning funds rather than comply with new Trump administration rules that ban participating clinics from referring patients for non-emergency abortions and require financial separation from facilities that provide abortions. Title X funds already could not be used to provide abortions.
Now the Source group, which will not refer patients for abortion, plans to vie for the money in 2020.
The Post’s report notes the surprising twist, calling it a “huge cultural shift” for Christian centers. However, it might not be as huge a shift as one might think, at least for some denominations:
The decision to provide contraception is a huge cultural shift for Christian centers that, for religious reasons, do not normally offer birth control. But it represents what some in the antiabortion movement say is a much-needed rebranding for pregnancy centers — away from emphasizing ending abortion and toward placing women’s health care front and center. Many younger conservative Christians, in particular, are concerned with how the movement treats women.
That might be true for Catholic crisis centers and clinics, but not every Christian denomination bars contraception entirely. (Technically, neither does the Catholic Church, which teaches Natural Family Planning, a discipline that teaches men and women about fertility cycles to both avoid and embrace conception.) Few of them would embrace abortive drugs and techniques (such as RU-486 or IUDs), but many of them would likely have no trouble with the Pill, condoms, diaphragms, and other contraceptive methods.
Plus, there has to be a sense of mission in this instance. Having successfully forced Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers from Title X funding, a small window now exists to ensure they remain crowded out of it. The next Democratic president will surely reverse the rule change instituted by Donald Trump that bars Title X providers from either referring abortions or performing them. Unless other provides create supply for that demand on a widespread basis, Planned Parenthood will once again suck up those federal funds. It is incumbent on their opponents to fill that gap fast, comprehensively, and competitively to prevent that kind of domination in the future.
What better way to do that in a life-affirming way than to have Christian organizations fill that gap? And what better way to address the concerns about the treatment of women in this controversial issue than to bring that mission directly to those who are most at risk?
Finally, this demonstrates what many of us have long argued. Few if any of those who opposed Planned Parenthood’s Title X subsidies opposed the program itself, but its use to supplement and subsidize the abortion industry. Once that domination of the Title X market was removed, we argued, healthier clinics that had been crowded out thanks to Planned Parenthood’s political clout would emerge to meet the demand, as happens in any healthy market. This article indirectly points to the wisdom of that argument, even if it doesn’t get quite as much notice.