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Keep taxpayer money away from abortion

This legislative session, our state Legislature will consider a vitally important pro-life policy proposal: keeping taxpayer dollars away from organizations that support abortion. This common-sense, pro-life proposal will undoubtedly be a highlight of this year’s legislative session. The following provides some basics about the policy – and, as always, invites you to advocate on behalf of the unborn. 
 
On Jan. 10, Gov. Pete Ricketts delivered his “State of the State” address to the Nebraska Unicameral. The governor also introduced his recommended budget. Like last year, the governor’s budget includes certain conditions for receiving Title X funds.
 
Title X is a federal grant program that provides preventive health services and family planning services. Title X includes important preventive health services such as annual well-woman exams, STD testing and treatment, and HPV testing and vaccinations. However, Title X also includes problematic services such as contraception. 
 
The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services receives Title X grant funds from the federal government. The funds then “pass through” to a variety of grantee organizations. Over $1.5 million are distributed to these organizations. The leading recipient is Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, which receives nearly $300,000 per year.
 
Governor Ricketts’ proposal prohibits Title X funds from being distributed to an organization that “performs, assists with the performance of, provides directive counseling in favor of, or refers for abortion.”
 
The proposal allows an organization to receive Title X funds as long as they are “objectively independent” from an organization that performs, assists, counsels in favor of or refers for abortion. “Objectively independent” means a Title X provider must be “legally, physically, and financially separate” from an organization that supports abortion (for example, an abortion facility).
 
In other words, the proposal ensures that Title X service providers keep their Title X services separate from the abortion industry. Like other government funding programs, the Title X proposal simply provides basic accountability. It ensures that taxpayer dollars are not supporting abortion.
 
This proposal is a common-sense, pro-life policy and there are at least several reasons it should be adopted by our state Legislature.
 
First, reason and faith reveal that we have a fundamental duty to care for unborn human life. This includes promoting life-affirming public policy and pushing back on our nation’s expansive pro-abortion laws. Our goal is to bring about a culture of life and a civilization of love. The Title X proposal ensures that taxpayer dollars will not be distributed to organizations that are taking the lives of innocent unborn children, either directly or through immoral cooperation.
 
Second, polling demonstrates that Americans generally agree that taxpayer dollars should not subsidize abortion. For example, a recent Marist Poll found that 60 percent of Americans oppose the use of taxpayer dollars to pay for a woman’s abortion. Even 40 percent of self-identified pro-choice individuals oppose taxpayer dollars being used for abortion. The Title X proposal advances generally agreed-upon policy that taxpayer dollars should not subsidize the abortion industry.
 
Third, despite claims by Planned Parenthood, the Title X proposal does nothing to undermine the current provision of Title X services. The same amount of government funds will remain available for women and men who use Title X services. This means women and men will retain access to important preventive health services and, unfortunately, contraceptive services.
 
Bottom line: The Title X proposal will certainly require any organization that provides, assists, counsels in favor of or refers for abortion to reconsider their work to promote abortion. If they want to continue receiving Title X funds, they will need to separate from the abortion industry. If they do not separate, the same amount of Title X funds will be available for other or new providers to continue ensuring access to Title X.
 
As previously stated, the Title X proposal will be a highlight of this legislative session. Our state senators need to hear from you. They need to know their constituents demand that we implement common-sense, pro-life policy in Nebraska. Make a phone call, write a letter, and/or send an email. The most vulnerable – the unborn – are relying on us to speak on their behalf. Be a voice for the voiceless! God bless you!
 
Visit www.necatholic.org for more information about contacting your senator and to join our network!
 
Tom Venzor is executive director of the Nebraska Catholic Conference, with headquarters in Lincoln. Contact him at tvenzor@necatholic.org.

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