The education bill signed into law by President Barack Obama Thursday has bipartisan support, but it also has raised concerns about opening the door for a potential funding avenue for Planned Parenthood.
Republicans advocating for the bill pointed out that the law actually blocks the use of any of federal money for abortions — the first education funding bill to explicitly do so — and has the backing of many leading abortion opponents, such as GOP Reps. Chris Smith (N.J.) and Joe Pitts (Pa.)
However, at least one conservative group has stated that the language seems to allow school health resource to coordinate with Planned Parenthood.
At issue is Title X of the Public Health Act.
Section 8035 of the education legislation says, “Funds used for activities under this Act shall be carried out in accordance with the provision of section 399z–1(a)(3)(C) of the Public Health Service Act (42 U.S.C. 280h–5(a)(3)(C)).’’ The relevant portion of Title X of the Public Health Act states, “Services are provided through state, county, and local health departments; community health centers; Planned Parenthood centers; and hospital-based, school-based, faith-based, other private nonprofits.”
“There is no line of direct funding, there is no argument there,” Americans for Limited Government senior editor Robert Romano told TheBlaze. “But connecting school health centers with the Public Health Act opens up a new potential funding source for Planned Parenthood when the House already voted to cut funding through reconciliation.”
Acknowledging that the legislation prohibits any abortion funds, Romano added, “We didn’t say it funded abortion. We said it could fund Planned Parenthood.”
Americans for Limited Government President Rick Manning further said in a statement, “By tying funds for school-based health centers to compliance with the Public Health Service Act, which explicitly allows Planned Parenthood eligible to receive funds, the possibility of new funding is opened."
After the bill passed the House last week and the Senate this week by strong bipartisan majorities, Obama signed it into law on Thursday
“School health centers are authorized through a separate law, entitled the Public Health Services Act. Section 8035 of the Every Student Succeeds Act merely cross references a specific provision in the Public Health Service Act in order to prohibit any funds in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act from being used to provide abortion services,” a congressional staffer closely involved in the legislation told TheBlaze.
The staffer rejects the notion that this law opens another funding avenue for Planned Parenthood.
“The legislation — for the first time under federal education law — prohibits the use of federal education dollars to fund abortion services,” the staffer continued. “Again, the legislation references the specific provision in the Public Health Service to ensure no funds under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act are used to provide abortion services.”
Ramono further suggested that Section 4108 of the law, which allows for “Community Based Services and Programs” to be funded through schools receiving federal grants could also go to Planned Parenthood.
“States and school districts determine which contractors they work with, because they are in the best position to make these decisions based on the needs of their local communities,” the congressional staffer responded.