Planned Parenthood of Idaho recently announced that it would no longer take federal Title X funds, which provide a range of reproductive health services for women and men who are at or below the poverty level. The decision came after a bill passed the Idaho House Health and Welfare Committee that would block $137,000 in the Title X funding from going to Planned Parenthood because of its support for the right to a safe, legal abortion, according to Kaisernetwork.org. Planned Parenthood of Idaho President Rebecca Poedy acknowledged the group was trying to avoid a legislative fight, telling the Idaho Statesman that “the odds of winning this battle in January are pretty slim.” She also said that while demand for services for low-income men and women, particularly women of color, has increased in the past few years, federal funding has not risen to match the demand, the Statesman reports.
A similar situation occurred in Texas this summer, when a rider attached to the state budget prohibited the distribution of state funds to any organization that performs abortions or contracts with organizations that perform abortions, according to Kaisernetwork.org. Texas already prohibits state funds from being used to perform abortions, but Rider 8 goes a step further, also requiring that clinics submit pledges in writing that they will stop performing abortions or face the loss of all public funding. Six Planned Parenthood affiliates in Texas sued the state, charging that Rider 8 illegally punishes clinics for providing abortions. In addition, Planned Parenthood said the funding cuts would prevent them from providing reproductive health services such as PAP tests, cancer screenings, and contraception to 115,000 low-income women. A US District Judge issued a preliminary injunction in August preventing enforcement of the rider, ruling that the state could not add requirements to federal funding.
Judge Sam Spark also ruled that Texas is “withholding funds from otherwise eligible providers … solely because of activities the providers perform with private funds,” according to the Star-Telegram. This description is similar to the Global Gag Rule, which withholds US family planning funds from organizations abroad that, with private funds, perform abortions, provide abortion referrals, or even discuss abortion with patients or in public discourse.
“Frustrated with their inability to overturn Roe v. Wade, right-wing legislators are working hard to restrict access to a safe abortion,” said Beth Jordan, MD, medical director of the Feminist Majority. “Given that 33 percent of US women will have an abortion by the time they’re 45 years old, the need for excellent abortion services is a reality in the US. The stealth attack on abortion rights as well as the chronic underfunding of Title X clinics only serves to ensure that unintended pregnancy rates escalate as well as the rate of sexually transmitted infections, including HIV. Aren’t these the very things anti-choice activists claim they seek to prevent?”