Leave Title X funds out of abortion debate. It's illegal to mingle the two

Gov. Katie Hobbs has proposed additional funding to boost family-planning programs funded by Title X.
Gov. Katie Hobbs has proposed additional funding to boost family-planning programs funded by Title X.

Although the name may sound mysterious, Title X is not.

Introduced more than 50 years ago, Title X is the nation’s premier sexual and reproductive health care program. It provides unbiased, medically based health care to millions of Americans every year, including nearly 33,000 Arizonans through 56 Title X-funded health centers across the state.

The federally administered Title X grant program funds Affirm, formerly Arizona Family Health Partnership, which, in turn, distributes funds to health centers providing low- or no-cost services to the uninsured and underinsured, low-wage earners, Indigenous communities, youth and other groups that have been systematically excluded from receiving care.

Another view:Hobbs should not boost Title X program funding

Services include birth control, sexually transmitted infection (STI) testing and treatment, pregnancy testing, pelvic exams including Pap smears, breast exams, basic infertility screening, counseling and other preventative services. Nearly 80% of Arizona Title X clients are women, 57% of whom are Hispanic. Almost 40% of our roughly 33,000 clients are uninsured.

Affirm, a 49-year-old 501(c)3 non-profit, rigorously complies with Title X guidelines from the federal Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Population Affairs. In addition to undergoing regular federal audits, Affirm conducts ongoing site visits to ensure health centers adhere to required Title X financial, clinical and administrative rules and regulations.

Federal dollars cannot fund abortion services

Fact: Title X does not fund abortion care. Period.

Federal dollars are forbidden from doing just that. Under Biden administration rules, Title X dollars are allowed to go to clinics that also provide abortion services, but those funds are specifically designated only for Title X-supported sexual and reproductive health care services, not for abortions. Our regular site visits and federal audits are very specific in determining how funds are allocated to assure compliance.

Affirm has never and will never provide abortion services. No Title X-funded health centers in Arizona are providing abortions.

Title X health care providers can counsel pregnant clients on their pregnancy options, if and only if a client wants this medical information. That unbiased, informational, noncoercive counseling covers all options available to clients who may be referred to other health centers that match their personal needs and decisions.

That may include adoption or prenatal care.

Education reduces unwanted pregnancies

Despite efforts to misrepresent Title X, Title X saves lives.

By educating people of every age to make personal decisions about what’s right for them and the families they hope to have, Title X services reduce the number of unplanned pregnancies, STIs and unnecessary abortions for our clients.

Arizona data from 2022 reported to the HHS Office of Population Affairs for the Family Planning Annual Report show that Title X health clinics prevented more than 5,300 unintended pregnancies that would have resulted in 2,500 unplanned births, nearly 1,800 abortions and 1,010 miscarriages.

According to the Guttmacher Institute, a leading research and policy organization committed to advancing sexual and reproductive health and rights worldwide, those results saved Arizona more than $50 million in maternal and birth-related costs.

Funding more Title X services helps Arizonans

Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs understands the value of Title X. Her decision to allocate more funding to Title X-type services will significantly increase the number of Arizonans with access to this care.

With more access to Title X services, people can choose when to start or expand their families and with whom, a decision especially important for people in abusive, coercive and/or unsafe relationships.

By law, Title X care is to be accessible, equitable, affordable, client-centered, confidential and high quality.

At Affirm, our job is to support individuals as they access Title X care in Arizona. We affirm their dignity as they choose what’s best for them and their lives and we will continue to do just that.

Bré Thomas is CEO of Affirm, formerly Arizona Family Health Partnership, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. Reach her at bthomas@affirmaz.org.

This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Title X funds are not used for abortion. Stop implying they do