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2. Title X of the Public Health Service Act provides federal funds for family planning services, but exempts programs where abortion is a method of family planning, which was interpreted by the Secretary of Health and Human Services in 1988 to exempt programs that discuss abortion, even if those programs do not directly provide abortions to recipients. Several Title X grantees and physicians supervising Title X funds challenged the validity of the regulations and sought an injunction against their implementation. The regulations were a permissible interpretation of Section 1008. The regulations did not violate constitutional guarantees.
It is important to realize that administrative agencies and their officials have significant latitude when it comes to interpreting the laws under which they operate. They have the right to make interpretive rules. These rules do not have the impact of a rule of law; however courts interpreting regulatory statutes frequently look at agency interpretations and give them substantial weight. Moreover, legislative rules, as long as they have been created in accordance to APA procedures and are consistent with the Constitution, can have the rule of law and be binding on courts.
The intent of the law is clearly to provide federal funding for family planning service, but not to programs where abortion is a method of family planning. Title X does not prohibit abortion providers from being Title X fund recipients, as long as their programs are not intermingled. The Secretary of Health and Human Services' interpretation that Title X did not intend to apply funding to programs that discuss abortion as a method of family planning, even if those programs do not provide abortion services, is reasonably consistent with the legislative intent not to use federal funds to support abortions. More significantly, it is consistent with constitutional requirements that women have access to legal abortions. Access to an abortion does not mean that doctors must discuss abortion as an option or that federal funds be made available to pay for those abortions. While the legislature can (and did) change the law to allow Title X recipients to discuss abortion with program recipients, the Secretary's interpretation of the law in question was consistent with the Constitution.
"Medical Component." Jefferson County Public Schools, Louisville, Kentucky. 2010. Web. 15 Nov. 2010.
"Statistics." Kentucky Teen Pregnancy Coalition - HOME. 2010. Web. 15 Nov. 2010.
York, Sara. "Welcome to Westport TAPP." Jefferson County Public Schools, Louisville, Kentucky. 2010. Web. 15 Nov. 2010.