CV NEWS FEED // The Biden administration recently pulled $4.5 million in funding from the Oklahoma State Department of Health’s (OSDH) family planning services in what critics call an act of retribution for the state’s pro-life laws.
According to the OSDH, Biden’s Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) revoked the grant due to the OSDH’s pro-life family services being deemed “out of compliance” by the federal government.
As a result, the OSDH is now unable to serve around 30,000 low-income people with family health services such as counseling, testing and treatment ofr STDs, physical examinations, and prenatal care and education.
OSDH officials said that by rescinding the $4.5 million in family planning funds, HHS was in violation of Title X of the Public Health Services Act. Title X states that “none of the funds appropriated under this title shall be used in programs where abortion is a method of family planning,” and lists a variety of healthcare procedures for which the funds can be used, all of which are services offered by OSDH.
Oklahoma Republican Sen. James Lankford wrote to HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra on June 1, demanding that the funds be reinstated and accusing HHS of wilfully misinterpreting Title X.
“HHS has chosen to prioritize abortion instead of prioritizing actual health care, by suspending Title X funding awarded to OSDH because of its obligation to abide by federal law and the state laws of Oklahoma,” Lankford wrote in his letter. “It is absurd that HHS is suspending funds previously granted to OSDH for its refusal to refer for a procedure that the underlying federal statute explicitly forbids.”
“Abortion is not family planning,” he added:
It is family destruction. Every abortion takes an unborn child’s life. Oklahoma’s laws protect women and unborn children from the violence of abortion in the interest of promoting families, keeping Oklahomans safe, and protecting life.
HHS’s action against Oklahoma is only the latest in a growing number of interventions against pro-life states and laws. After a 2022 Supreme Court decision returned abortion regulation to the states last year, conservative states like Texas enacted pro-life policies, leading HHS to punish them for protecting unborn children.
In August 2022, HHS refused to increase Medicaid payments to mothers of newborns in Texas.
Directly after the Supreme Court repealed Roe v. Wade, Biden pledged an “all-of-government” effort to defend and promote abortion nationwide. Two weeks later, he signed an executive order demanding healthcare providers cooperate with the “implementation of federal efforts to protect reproductive rights and access to healthcare.”
The order completely disregarded the Hyde amendment, a provision that forbids taxpayer-funding of most abortions.
Lankford argued in his letter that HHS’s most recent actions are targeting pro-life states once more.
“OSDH has made every attempt to lawfully provide Oklahomans with family planning services under Title X,” he wrote. “They are now being financially punished for not violating state and federal law.”
Lankford gave HHS until June 12 to reinstate funding. It remains unclear what HHS’s response will be.