Planned Parenthood says that it will withdraw from Title X just days from now unless a federal court intervenes to save their Title X funding. Due to the Trump administration’s “domestic gag” rule Title X recipients are prevented from performing, counseling, or referring patients to abortion services and providers, primarily affecting low-income patients seeking family planning care.

In a letter to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, Planned Parenthood outlined its’ plan to withdraw from Title X by Monday unless the court moves to protect funding for the organization. Acting Planned Parenthood president Alexis McGill Johnson said the changes to the rule are “unethical, and a gag on health care providers.” She stated that the new rules will raise the cost of contraception and other services, as well as increase wait times at clinics around the US.

The decision to withdraw from Title X will have far reaching repercussions for low-income patients of Planned Parenthood. McGill Johnson says that the Trump administration’s changes to the almost 50 year old program will result in “—putting birth control, breast and cervical cancer screenings, and STI testing and treatment at risk for millions of people struggling to make ends meet. This is a blatant assault on our health and rights, and we will not stand for it.”

Dr. Monica McLemore, a Title X expert and professor at the University of California-San Francisco School of Nursing explained “These rule changes force providers into an impossible choice: Will we care for the pregnant person in front of us and make a requested referral for abortion related services, or will we accept funds allowing us to care for thousands of others? The proposed changes to the rule are not about “paying for abortion”—rather, if directly asked for an abortion referral, providers would have to respond that as a Title X grantee, we cannot refer them, and we would be limited instead to providing a resource list of comprehensive providers without specifying whether they offer abortion services.”

The Trump administration made changes to Title X earlier this year, making organizations that provide abortion services ineligible for federal funds that help to provide other healthcare services. Planned Parenthood has been part of Title X since its creation in 1971 and currently serves 40% of its grantees. According to Planned Parenthood, abortion services make up only 3% of its overall programs. Federal funding of abortion is prohibited by the Hyde amendment but the Trump administration’s changes to Title X will prevent recipients from even speaking about, counseling, or referring patients to abortion providers.

Sources: NPR 8/15/19; NPR 2/22/19; Planned Parenthood 8/14/19; Planned Parenthood 8/16/19; Dr. Monica McLemore Congressional Testimony 6/16/19; Feminist Newswire 3/31/17

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