In 1970, Congress enacted Title X, which authorizes the Secretary of Health and Human Services to make grants to public and private organizations for the operation of family planning projects. According to one estimate, Title X projects provide services to an estimated 14.5 million women; of these women, nearly one third are adolescents, and 90% have incomes below 150% of the poverty line.

When Congress enacted Title X, it stipulated that no Title X funds "shall be used in programs where abortion is a method of family planning." While it is clear that the statute never permitted Title X funds to be used to subsidize or perform abortions, the government permitted Title X recipients to provide abortion counseling.

On February 2, 1988, the Secretary of Health and Human Services finalized regulations that reversed the prior policy of permitting the discussion of abortion. In addition to prohibiting employees in Title X-funded clinics from discussing abortions with clients, the new regulations require that recipients physically separate their Title X clinics from their activities that involve abortion counseling or advocacy.

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