U.S. Senator Joe Manchin today introduced the "Title X Transparency and Verification Act," legislation that would verify safeguards that prevent federal funds from being used for abortions by increasing public scrutiny for family planning funding and bringing needed transparency to agencies' use of the funds.
Under the legislation, the Department of Health and Human Services would post independent audits online for any agencies that receive money under Title X.
Currently, no federal funds can be used for abortions, and independent audits verifying compliance with the law are already required. However, the audits are not readily available to members of the public.
"As a lifelong abortion opponent, I want to ensure that all West Virginians and all Americans can easily access and independently verify information that not one single federal taxpayer dollar is used to fund abortions in this country," Senator Manchin said. "I believe there needs to be a strict firewall around the vital services that Title X funds provide -- such as cancer screenings and family planning -- so that those federal funds are never, ever used for a single abortion, except in the cases of rape, incest and life of the mother. We must do everything in our power to strengthen and protect that barrier."
Under current law, "family planning projects that receive Title X funds are closely monitored to ensure that federal funds are used appropriately and that funds are not used for prohibited activities such as abortion."
Under current law, a grantee's abortion activities must be "separate and distinct" from the Title X activities.
Among the safeguards in place to maintain this separation, Title X recipients must undergo periodic, independent audits to ensure that federal funding is not going directly or indirectly to abortion activities.
The typical audit process includes an onsite review of records, space, employee timekeeping mechanisms and methodologies.