Planned Parenthood is refusing to comply with the new rules the Trump Administration laid out for Tite X recipients. Today being a critical deadline in the enforcement of the new rules, the organization says it will be forced out of the federal program unless a federal court intervenes on its behalf.
The Trump Administration says Planned Parenthood is “actually choosing to place a higher priority on the ability to refer for abortion instead of continuing to receive federal funds.”
Title X is a $286 million federal program that allows for about 4 million low-income Americans to receive birth control and other kinds of reproductive health care. Planned Parenthood estimates it serves 40 percent of those people, and roughly four percent (around $60 million) of their funding comes from Title X funds at the moment. The organization is still receiving government funding through Medicare.
Today represents a key deadline for recipients of Title X funds to confirm that they’re “making a good-faith effort” to comply with the new rules the Trump Administration made official in February of this year.
Title X Was Never Intended to Fund Abortions
While the original language of Title X, which was established in 1970, prohibits the money from being used to directly fund abortions (except in cases of rape or incest or if the woman might die), organizations such as Planned Parenthood got around this wording by using the federal funding for the other, non-abortion services, it provides, such as STD testing, providing birth control, and cancer screenings. It was still performing abortions under the same roof, but the abortions were paid for by other means such as patients paying out-of-pocket, private insurance, and other grants. The new rules under the Trump Administration take the regulations further, stipulating a clinic using Title X funds cannot occupy the same space as an abortion provider and that it cannot refer patients to abortion providers, something critics of the rules refer to as essentially a “gag rule.”
The acting President of Planned Parenthood, Alexis McGill Johnson, told NPR the “gag rule” interferes with the doctor-patient relationship because doctors will not be allowed to present abortion as an option to patients. Their only option, Johnson says, will be to refer patients to prenatal care.
Meanwhile, the Trump Administration refutes the idea that it is interfering with the doctor-patient relationship. In a “Myth vs. Fact” section about the new rules on the U.S Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) website, it states:
If a woman is pregnant, a Title X provider may provide a list of comprehensive healthcare providers (including prenatal care providers), including some (but not the majority) who perform abortion as part of a comprehensive healthcare practice. However, this list cannot serve as a referral for, nor identify those who provide abortion–and Title X providers cannot indicate those on the list who provide abortion.
Additionally, HHS says “Title X providers are prohibited from referring for abortion as a method of family planning,” but they are not prohibited (nor required) to provide “nondirective counseling on abortion.”
Is Planned Parenthood Done?
Johnson appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals last week, stating that “This gag rule will destroy the Title X program—putting birth control, breast and cervical cancer screenings and STI testing and treatment at risk for millions of people struggling to make ends meet.” The appeal was refused on Friday.
Planned Parenthood doesn’t look like it’s going to give up the fight anytime soon, though. On its website, the organization states that the House of Representatives voted in favor of protective language for the Title X program with the “gag rule” wording. The Senate will have the chance to weigh in on the wording in a few weeks.
In the meantime, Planned Parenthood is working on a way to compensate for the absence of federal funding. Johnson said they will seek other funding sources, such as donations, but that it’s highly unlikely these other sources will cover the amount the federal government once did.