Biden’s HHS seeks to deprive pregnancy centers of federal funds

Biden’s HHS seeks to deprive pregnancy centers of federal funds ( Xavier Mouton Photographie/Unsplash)

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is working to thwart pregnancy help organizations from receiving federals funds through a proposed rule change that incorrectly assesses the work of pregnancy centers. 

TANF, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, is a federal assistance program begun in 1997 that succeeded the Aid to Families with Dependent Children program (AFDC) and gives cash assistance to American families in need via HHS. 

U.S. states receive federal funds through TANF that they can award to programs and organizations that do the following:

1. Provide assistance to needy families so that children can be cared for in their own homes or in the homes of relatives.

2. End the dependence of needy parents on government benefits by promoting job preparation, work, and marriage.

3. Prevent and reduce the incidence of out-of-wedlock pregnancies.

4. Encourage the formation and maintenance of two-parent families.

Many states give TANF funds to pregnancy help organizations because they help to meet some or all the prescribed TANF goals. 

But in October the Biden Administration released the proposed HHS rule change that prevents states from giving the federal funds to pregnancy centers.

In a Proposed Rule Change, "Strengthening Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) as a Safety Net and Work Program," released Oct. 2, 2023, the HHS targets pregnancy centers and alternatives to abortion (A2A) programs, threatening to strip them of funds allocated through the states. 

It appears the proposed change will give HHS the power to determine which organizations can receive the funds at its sole discretion, rescinding that authority from the states.

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The Proposed Rule Change targets pregnancy centers in Purpose Three and dismisses altogether the work that pregnancy help organizations do in the other areas, arguing that because pregnancy centers help women after they have become pregnant instead of having a sole focus on pregnancy prevention, that the centers should not be eligible for TANF funds.

The proposed change to Purpose Three:

"Programs that only or primarily provide pregnancy counseling to women only after they become pregnant likely do not meet the reasonable person standard because the connection to preventing and reducing out-of-wedlock pregnancies is tenuous or non-existent, and therefore do not accomplish purpose three. States that provide funding for these types of programs, including through entities sometimes known as crisis pregnancy centers or pregnancy resource centers, must be able to show that the expenditure actually accomplishes the TANF purpose, that prior expenditures by the state or another entity for the same or a substantially similar program or activity actually accomplished the TANF purpose, or that there is academic or other research indicating that the expenditure could reasonably be expected to accomplish the TANF purpose" [emphasis added].

The HHS does not cite any evidence that pregnancy centers are unlawfully using Federal funds for non-TANF purposes.

Tweet This: The Biden HHS does not cite any evidence that pregnancy centers are unlawfully using Federal funds for non-TANF purposes.

A public comment period on the proposed rule change was in effect through December 1, and it is not known whether citizen comments will affect any change on the proposed rule change. 

Pregnancy Help News and Heartbeat International are monitoring the proposed rule change and will report and respond accordingly to inform and help preserve the pregnancy help community. 

Editor's note: Heartbeat International manages Pregnancy Help News.

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