The organization will lose $60 million worth of funds used to help low-income women gain access to reproductive health services

By Claudia Harmata
August 20, 2019 12:25 PM
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Jeff Roberson/AP/Shutterstock

Planned Parenthood has withdrawn from Title X federal funding over the Trump administration’s abortion restrictions.

On Monday, the reproductive health care non-profit announced that it would not accept funds from the Title X federal family planning program, which gives the organization about $60 million annually to help provide birth control and other health services to low-income women, according to multiple reports.

Their decision was in light of restrictions the Trump administration created on Title X recipients that prohibit doctors and clinic staff from providing abortion referrals to their patients.

“Due to an unethical and dangerous gag rule, the Trump administration has forced Planned Parenthood grantees out of Title X,” Alexis McGill Johnson, the acting president and CEO of the organization, said, according to CNN.

“We will not be bullied into withholding abortion information from our patients,” she added.

According to Planned Parenthood and organizations like the American Medical Association, this new rule would force medical professionals to withhold information from patients, jeopardize the doctor-patient relationship and would deny women knowledge of their options, the New York Times reported.

The Department of Health and Human Services shared an explanation of the new policy earlier this month, insisting otherwise — and maintained that it was not a “gag rule.”

“Health professionals are free to provide non-directive pregnancy counseling, including counseling on abortion, and are not prohibited in any way from providing medically necessary information to clients,” the department wrote.

However, it added that “referral for abortion as a method of family planning is not permitted, because the statute written by Congress prohibits funding programs where abortion is a method of family planning” — though “referral for abortion because of an emergency medical situation is not prohibited.”

Clinic doctors are allowed to give their patients a list of healthcare providers that include those that perform abortions (but not the majority), and they cannot indicate to patients which providers do so.

What this means for Planned Parenthood patients:

By withdrawing from the Title X program, Planned Parenthood is losing $60 million that will need to be sourced through “emergency funds,” The Wall Street Journal reported.

Donations to Planned Parenthood will help keep open clinics that offer safe, affordable healthcare to women.

“What we are committed to doing is using some emergency funds to help our patients get through, but it will have an impact,” Johnson told the outlet. “Using fundraising — essentially charity for what should be a state responsibility — it’s like holding an umbrella during a tsunami.”

In total, the organization gets more Title X money than any other group and serves 40 percent of Title X patients.

Losing that funding means those patients could face longer waits for appointments, a delay in care or receive no care at all, according to the NYT.

This means Planned Parenthood, which currently cares for 1.5 million people, would ultimately be forced to serve remarkably fewer patients.

The impact of the loss of funds will likely vary state by state. In some states, like Utah, Planned Parenthood is the only organization that receives Title X funds. In other states, the state receives the fund and then filters to Planned Parenthood and other healthcare providers.

The WSJ reported that several states — Illinois, New York, Washington, Oregon and Hawaii — have also withdrawn from the program as a whole, and pledge to come up with new funding.

The $60 million in funds is now open to other health care providers, such as faith-based providers and anti-abortion providers, which could significantly change the scope of care women have access to across the U.S.

Ultimately, low-income women across the U.S. will have a much harder time receiving access to birth control, cancer screenings and testing for H.I.V. and other sexually transmitted infections, all services offered by Planned Parenthood through the Title X funding.