By Pam Belluck
Charlotte Cooper photo/Flickr
The New York Times Company
Planned Parenthood said Monday
that it would withdraw from the federal family planning program that provides birth control and other health services to poor women rather than comply with a new Trump administration rule that forbids referrals to doctors who can perform abortions.
Planned Parenthood receives about $60 million given annually through the federal program known as Title X. The funds have enabled the group to provide more than 1.5 million low-income women each year with services like birth control and pregnancy tests, as well as screenings for sexually transmitted diseases and breast and cervical cancer. In some rural communities, Planned Parenthood is the only provider of such services.
In states like Utah, where Planned Parenthood is the only organization receiving Title X funds, and Minnesota, where Planned Parenthood serves 90% of the Title X patients, those seeking care may face long waits for appointments, the group said, while other patients may delay care or go without. Overall, Planned Parenthood gets more Title X money than any single group, and it serves 40% of all Title X patients.
The group’s decision to stop accepting the money was cheered by anti-abortion groups that have long sought to deprive Planned Parenthood of federal support. “It is a long-awaited victory that will energize the pro-life grassroots,” said Jeanne Mancini, president of the March for Life.
Planned Parenthood has continually received Title X money since the program was enacted in 1970.
Alexis McGill Johnson, acting president of Planned Parenthood, on Monday accused the administration of forcing Planned Parenthood out of the Title X program. “When you have an unethical rule that will limit what providers can tell our patients, it becomes really important that we not agree to be in the program,” she said.
The Department of Health and Human Services said Monday that groups that refused to comply with the rule “are now blaming the government for their own actions.” The agency added: “They are abandoning their obligations to serve their patients under the program.”
The rule says that while clinics accepting Title X funds may continue to talk to patients about abortion, they may not refer women to an abortion provider or suggest where to obtain an abortion.