Dems Include Money for Abortion Providers in $1.9 Trillion COVID Aid Package

Massive stimulus bill stacked with progressive priorities

Senate Democrats / Getty Images
February 12, 2021

Tucked inside the Biden administration's $1.9 trillion coronavirus stimulus package is a provision to restore millions in government funding to Planned Parenthood.

The $1.9 trillion stimulus package Democrats say aims to reboot the economy provides a $50 million boost to the Title X family planning program, which under the Biden administration will supply abortion providers such as Planned Parenthood with government funds. The Trump administration had amended Title X to make abortion providers ineligible for the funds, which are intended for health services and family planning, but the change is in the process of being reversed, restoring a giant revenue stream for Planned Parenthood.

While the stimulus is intended to reboot an economy suffering the after-effects of COVID-19 and government restrictions on economic activity, it also features major progressive policy goals. In addition to expanding taxpayer funding for abortion services, the aid package also includes a provision to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Senate Democrats are planning on using the budget reconciliation process to pass the package, meaning it can pass with just 50 votes in favor and Vice President Kamala Harris breaking the tie.

The boost to the Title X program comes after lengthy battles over Planned Parenthood's role in government funding and stimulus packages. Some states declared abortion to be an essential service and allowed abortion clinics to remain open while others ordered the clinics to close as part of coronavirus-related shutdowns. In Pennsylvania, for example, Gov. Tom Wolf (D.) ordered all elective surgeries suspended during the crisis while exempting abortion clinics. States like Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Texas all moved to suspend abortion services, prompting legal battles.

Additionally, some blue states also moved to expand access to abortions through telemedicine in the early days of the pandemic. A group of Democratic state attorneys general called on the Food and Drug Administration to loosen restrictions on abortion drugs. In January, however, the Supreme Court ruled against allowing abortion medication to be prescribed remotely.

With Biden in power, Planned Parenthood has a far friendlier administration after four years of repeated clashes with the Trump administration.

Planned Parenthood left the Title X family planning program during the Trump administration after the administration changed its requirements to forbid abortion referrals.

The administration also required that health care providers enrolled in the funding program maintain a physical separation between abortion facilities and other facilities. The withdrawal cost the organization $60 million in annual funding.

Planned Parenthood also accessed $80 million in coronavirus relief loans under the Small Business Administration's Paycheck Protection Program during the initial wave of stimulus. Republicans and the Trump administration called for the organization to return the funding and pushed for the Department of Justice to investigate how the group obtained the funding. The Biden administration did not respond to a request for comment on whether the organizer will have access to further funding.

Pro-life groups decried the increase in taxpayer funding. "House Democrats are shamefully pushing a massive expansion of abortion on demand, paid for with tax dollars, in the guise of COVID-19 relief—including payouts to abortion giant Planned Parenthood," Susan B. Anthony List president Marjorie Dannenfelser said in a statement.

Planned Parenthood did not respond to a request for comment concerning its stance on the legislation and whether it plans to pursue further financial aid.

Published under: Planned Parenthood