GOP Opposition Emerges Against Biden’s Proposal to Cut Federal Funds for Anti-Abortion Counseling Centers
In the ongoing clash over abortion access, congressional Republicans are mounting efforts to thwart a Biden administration spending rule that aims to halt funding to anti-abortion counseling centers.
The rule, part of the proposed changes to the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, seeks to restrict states from allocating federal funds to crisis pregnancy centers that counsel against abortions.
Biden Administration Questions Post-Conception Counseling Standards
The Biden administration contends that programs primarily offering pregnancy counseling only after conception may not meet the required standards.
With millions of dollars at stake, currently flowing through TANF, the proposed rule has sparked significant debate, receiving over 7,000 comments.
The move to limit funds for anti-abortion counseling centers aligns with the administration’s broader efforts to advance federal policies expanding abortion access.
This push contrasts sharply with conservative states that have, since the 2022 Supreme Court decision, imposed severe restrictions on abortion care.
This week, congressional Republicans introduced legislation to counter the Health and Human Services Agency’s attempt to restrict funds.
Despite having little chance of passing this year, the bill underscores the deep divide on the issue.
During a House Ways and Means Committee hearing, Republican Representative Darin LaHood of Illinois emphasized the importance of pregnancy centers as an important and vital alternative for expectant mothers.
These counseling centers have gained popularity among conservatives as a platform to discourage abortions.
An Associated Press investigation revealed a substantial increase in funding for these programs over the last decade, with more than a dozen states contributing around $500 million in taxpayer dollars since 2010. Pennsylvania, however, cut funding for all centers from its state budget last year.
Anti-Abortion Centers at Risk Amid Rule Changes
Critics argue that these centers, often religiously affiliated and not licensed healthcare facilities, provide misleading information about abortion and contraception.
Concerns include advising against abortion and suggesting links between abortion and breast cancer. While they typically offer pregnancy tests and some limited medical services, the controversy around their mission remains.
The proposed rule has raised alarms for organizations like the Human Coalition, an anti-abortion group with locations in several states.
Chelsey Youman, the group’s national director of public policy, estimates potential losses in the millions of dollars, jeopardizing plans for expansion in Louisiana and Indiana.
HHS suggests adjustments to how states can use the $16.5 billion in block grants intended for the nation’s neediest families.
The proposal comes in the wake of a corruption scandal in Mississippi, where $77 million in TANF funds were misappropriated over several years.
The suggested restrictions aim to ensure that funds benefit impoverished families, addressing concerns about the decline in cash assistance to such families from nearly 70% in 1996 to just over 21% in 2020.
The plan also seeks to limit the use of funds for college scholarships and childcare, among other initiatives.