The Office of Population Affairs at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has been a volatile place in recent months.

An intra-department battle over the financing of family-planning groups that promote abortion culminated this summer with the dismissal of Deputy Assistant Secretary Jo Ann Gasper. President Reagan has since ordered a series of new regulations that officially separate abortion from the government’s Title X family-planning program (CT, Sept. 4, 1987, p. 56).

Included in those regulations are prohibitions against giving funds to groups that encourage, promote, or advocate abortion, assist women in obtaining abortions, or have abortion services physically or financially linked to their family-planning services. The regulations are scheduled to take effect after a period for public reaction, which expires at the end of this month.

Nabers Cabaniss, a Christian who has worked at HHS since 1985, was named to replace Gasper as administrator of the government’s family-planning and adolescent pregnancy programs. CHRISTIANITY TODAY asked Cabaniss about the controversy surrounding her position and the two programs she administers.

What effect will the period of public comment have on Reagan’s new family-planning regulations?

We may receive as many as 200,000 comments from the public, and we are obligated to analyze them and take them into account when we promulgate the final regulations. But it’s not a majority-vote contest. If we hear more from one side of the issue than from the other, that does not mean we will base the final regulations on the majority view.

There has been talk that a lawsuit challenging the regulations will be filed as soon as they take effect. Does this ...

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