Last spring, in March of 2018, Congress passed an Omnibus spending bill that continued to fund the nation’s largest abortion provider, despite a pro-life majority in Congress. March for Life and March for Life Action, along with the pro-life grassroots, were extremely disappointed. March for Life Action activists sent 25,000 messages to Capitol Hill to share that sentiment.
But that did not stop us from pressing forward towards the important goal of defunding Planned Parenthood. We began petitioning HHS Secretary Alex Azar to take action; thousands of marchers lent their voice to this important cause. And the Administration heard our voice!
In May 2018, HHS announced the Protect Life Rule, which would disentangle taxpayer dollars from funding abortion, with the money redirected to comprehensive family health and planning centers that don’t perform abortions and understand that abortion is not healthcare. As March for Life President Jeanne Mancini wrote at the time, “For decades the March for Life and others have been working to reinstate Title X regulations that clearly separate abortion from healthcare – abortion is not healthcare.”
March for Life activists continued to respond in support to the Protect Life Rule as it went through the public comment period at HHS, submitting over 13,000 comments in support of the rule. Overall, From March through July of 2018, March for Life advocates sent 89,000 messages to Congress about important pro-life policies related to defunding Planned Parenthood and the Title X rule.
The rule wound its way through the court system, with the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, a bench that is not typically favorable to the pro-life cause, just last week upholding the rule. The March for Life welcomes the decision from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals lifting the injunctions on the Trump Administration’s Title X rule, and applauds the Trump Administration for letting the Protect Life Rule take effect immediately. Abortion is neither health care nor family planning and therefore should not be funded by the Title X program. Plus, a majority of Americans oppose taxpayer funding of abortion. This regulation helps to get taxpayers out of the abortion business, without cutting resources for those in need.
We must not lose sight of why our efforts and the Protect Life Rule are important. Four years ago this month, in July of 2015, the first videos from the Center for Medical Progress were released, revealing the barbaric fetal tissue trafficking practices happening in Planned Parenthood centers across the country. An organization that commits over 320,000 abortions each year, and has been caught illegally transferring fetal tissue, should not be receiving a dime of taxpayer money.
There is also a very important lesson in the story of the Protect Life Rule. Our efforts to impact laws and policies for the pro-life cause have been going on for decades. In an op-ed for The Hill last year, March for Life Action President Tom McClusky documented the history of the regulations dating back to the Reagan Administration. The Protect Life Rule still faces a court challenge and it’s quite possible that its fate will be in the hands in the U.S. Supreme Court.
But we must never lose heart as we seek to promote life-affirming laws and policies – the lives of the unborn and the health of women are at stake. Our voices matter, and we must continue to raise them – in the public square, with our lawmakers and policy makers, and with our friends and family. Your voice matters – you can make a difference.