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ERLC joins call for Bush to reverse abortion rules that assist Planned Parenthood

WASHINGTON (BP)–The Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission and other pro-life organizations have asked President Bush, in his final months in office, to change regulations that have enabled such organizations as Planned Parenthood to use federal funds to promote abortion as a form of family planning.

For more than seven years, the Bush administration has failed to reverse rules instituted under President Clinton that removed the wall between abortion services and family planning clinics that receive Title X grants. Title X is the federal government’s family planning program.

Barrett Duke, vice president for public policy of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, and 77 others told Bush in a letter the refusal to address the issue “has undermined your Administration’s consistent commitment to ensure that federal funds deployed for family planning projects not be used to promote abortion as a method of family planning.”

They asked the president to make the changes in the Title X rules before he leaves office in January so “taxpayer funds are not used to promote and facilitate abortion.” They said the mingling of abortion and family planning clinics, and their services, “sends the wrong message, defies Congressional intent and should not be allowed.”

Regulations issued during President Reagan’s administration made clear recipients of Title X funds may not “refer for abortion or combine family planning services with abortion services,” the letter said. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld those rules in a 1991 opinion.

The Clinton administration, however, eliminated the pro-life protections. Under Clinton, the regulations required Title X recipients to refer clients for abortions and permitted abortion clinics and family planning centers with which they are affiliated even to use the same staff and space, according to the letter.

In the most recent financial year, Title X funding grew by almost $17 million to a record of nearly $300 million, the Aug. 4 letter said.

In addition to Duke, other signers included Tony Perkins, president of Family Research Council; Tom Minnery, senior vice president of Focus on the Family; Kristen Day, executive director of Democrats for Life of America; Colleen Parro, executive director of Republican National Coalition for Life; David Stevens, chief executive officer of Christian Medical Association; Wendy Wright, president of Concerned Women for America; Phyllis Schlafly, president of Eagle Forum, and Donald Wildmon, chairman of American Family Association.

Affiliates of Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA), the country’s No. 1 abortion provider, performed nearly 290,000 abortions in 2006, the most recent year for which statistics exist. PPFA surpassed $1 billion in annual revenue for the first time in 2007, with more than $336 million of that total coming in grants and contracts from the federal and state governments.
Compiled by Baptist Press’ Washington Bureau chief Tom Strode.

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