Planned Parenthood will no longer receive Title X funding after declining to follow new, restrictive rules about abortion services from the Trump administration. Learn how this could affect YOUR reproductive rights.
Planned Parenthood announced on August 19 that the organization would be withdrawing from Title X funding, the federal program that provides healthcare to low-income women across the United States. Planned Parenthood is rejecting the $60 million in annual funding they receive from the federal government because the organization refuses to comply with the Trump administration’s new rules that restrict abortion counseling or referring services to their patients. The Trump administration’s restrictions leading to the massive drop in funding will severely impact millions of patients’ reproductive rights — maybe even yours. Here’s what you need to know:
1. Title X funding provides birth control and other reproductive health services to low income women in the United States. Planned Parenthood had received $60 million annually through the federally-funded program, which was enacted in 1970 during the Nixon administration. The organization has provided more than 1.5 million low-income women with health services that include pregnancy tests, STD testing, birth control, and screenings for breast and cervical cancer; federal funding was never allowed to be used for abortion services. In some rural areas, Planned Parenthood may be the only option for any of these healthcare services for women. Planned Parenthood serves 40 percent of all Title X patients, according to the New York Times, many of them black and Hispanic women, and gets more Title X money than any other healthcare organization. Roughly four million women are covered under Title X nationwide, which provides $260 million in grants to family planning clinics.
2. The new Title X rules will seriously inperil abortion rights, despite the current program not covering the cost of abortion services. Starting in 2020, clinics will not be allowed to refer patients for abortion. Abortion counseling will be designated as an optional practice, rather than the current standard, and only certain staff members will be allowed to discuss abortion with patients at all. Clinics may still perform abortions, but the procedures must be done in a separate facility. Additionally, the clinics must keep their finances separate from their abortion facilities. They have until March 2020 to open their new offices. The new rules also make it possible for faith-based and anti-abortion organizations to receive Title X grants.
The Department of Health and Human Services said in a statement on August 19 that “some grantees are now blaming the government for their own actions — having chosen to accept the grant while failing to comply with the regulations that accompany it — and they are abandoning their obligations to serve patients under the program.”
3. The impact of Planned Parenthood withdrawing from Title X will vary state by state. Planned Parenthood filed a lawsuit against the new Title X rules in San Francisco in a federal appeals court, but the panel of three Republican judges allowed the Trump administration to enforce them in a July 2019 ruling. The American Medical Association and 20 states have joined the lawsuit; oral arguments in front of a federal appeals court in San Francisco are scheduled for the week of September 23, according to the Washington Post. States like Vermont and Illinois, where Planned Parenthood serves 70,000 patients, have vowed to step in and make up the lost funding.
Illinois’ Democrat Governor J.B. Pritzker said during a press conference, that, “in Illinois we trust women.” In states like Utah, where Planned Parenthood is the only Title X grantee, the impact of the voluntary defunding will be devastating. There would be no clinics allowed to provide abortion counseling or services if Planned Parenthood accepted the funding. And in Minnesota, Planned Parenthood serves 90% of all Title X patients.
4. Donald Trump will claim that he has “defunded” Planned Parenthood. He didn’t. Defunding the organization has been a goal of the Trump administration, and one of his key campaign promises to anti-abortion conservatives. However, Planned Parenthood withdrawing from Title X doesn’t achieve that. Planned Parenthood gets substantial funding from Medicaid, provided by the federal government. Planned Parenthood received $500 million in Medicaid funding last year, per Planned Parenthood’s 2017-2018 report. The Trump administration has attempted to cut Medicaid funding itself, even as it’s given tax breaks to billionaires.
“The Trump-Pence administration and extreme politicians have waged attacks on Medicaid,” according to the Planned Parenthood site. They have consistently endangered over 68 million people with Medicaid coverage — who are disproportionately women of color. This includes cutting trillions of dollars from the program, limiting the ability of women to make decisions about their health care, and greenlighting stigmatizing proposals, like work requirements, that kick people off of coverage.”
5. Acting Planned Parenthood president Alexis McGill Johnson derided Trump and Pence in a statement. “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… We will not be bullied into withholding abortion information from our patients,” McGill Johnson said. “Our patients deserve to make their own health care decisions, not to be forced to have Donald Trump or Mike Pence make those decisions for them.” She also tweeted, “We will do everything we can to make sure Planned Parenthood patients don’t lose care. While the Trump-Pence administration may have given up on you, we never will. #ProtectX”.
Planned Parenthood also tweeted, “We aren’t throwing in the towel & we won’t give up on our patients. Being forced out of Title X won’t stop us from referring for or performing abortions, prescribing birth control, or any of our other services. Our doors are open and we are fighting against the gag rule.”