It’s their “back-up plan,” according to Politico’s Caitlin Emma, in an explainer clearly meant to assuage progressives’ frustration over the Hyde Amendment. Four months into “total control in Washington,” which isn’t actually true, Democrats and progressives still chafe at a provision that has enormous public support — a federal ban on funding for abortions. That’s why Democrats push funding for the nation’s largest abortion-mill chain through Title X funding.
Which is exactly what Republicans and pro-life advocates have insisted all along:
Democrats are planning budget boosts for sexual and reproductive health services, family planning and teen pregnancy prevention, hoping some of those issues will be more palatable for Republicans and moderates in passing a raft of bipartisan spending bills. They’re also hoping to build on millions of dollars allocated for gun violence research in recent years, after the long-held Dickey amendment chilled studies on the issue for more than two decades.
Because the Hyde amendment prevents federal money from being spent to perform abortions, it blocks low-income women from paying for the procedure through government programs like Medicaid. The main workaround for pro-choice lawmakers: pour money into grant programs that fund clinics like Planned Parenthood.
“There’s a lot we can do without addressing Hyde directly that will be important to supporting women’s access to reproductive choices,” said Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.).
This was precisely what conservatives have argued for years, and which Planned Parenthood and Democrats have steadfastly denied. The Title X funding is a “work-around” for Hyde, flooding the abortion mill with fungible taxpayer dollars. Republicans at the federal and state level have tried for a decade or more to disqualify Planned Parenthood and other abortion clinics from Title X for that very reason.
In response, Planned Parenthood keeps claiming that abortions make up only a small part of their services and that the funding goes to other efforts. However, most of their revenue comes from abortions, and their corporate focus remains on those procedures. Democrats publicly claim that Title X regulations provide a firewall against funding abortions, which it doesn’t, and that Planned Parenthood is uniquely positioned to deliver Title X’s contraceptive services. That’s only true, however, because the federal government dumps hundreds of millions of dollars in subsidies into Planned Parenthood through Title X. If that money was restricted to only clinics that don’t perform abortions, more of those clinics would open to meet the demand.
That wouldn’t give Democrats a “back-up plan” to fund abortions, however.
Why does Politico inadvertently blow the lid on this now? Democrats want to dump even more taxpayer money into Planned Parenthood, as a sop to progressives that wanted to see the Hyde Amendment repealed, as well as more cash to the UN for the same purpose:
Democrats are now eyeing significant funding increases for the Title X family planning program. Biden has asked for $340 million to that end, a nearly 19 percent increase over current funding.
Shaheen, who chairs the spending panel that funds the State Department and foreign programs, also wants Congress to spend more money on international family planning work, including through the U.N. sexual and reproductive health agency currently funded at about $33 million.
At least they’re getting a little more honest about this shell game. Republicans can’t do too much about it now, but perhaps this might motivate them to work a little harder to decertify Planned Parenthood from Title X if and when they return to power.