Faced with a choice between turning down as much as $60 million in Title X grants or stopping its abortion referrals, Planned Parenthood has chosen the former.
Planned Parenthood announced Tuesday that it will forgo Title X funding rather than stop providing abortion referrals, which is forbidden under a newly implemented rule by the Trump administration, a move expected to cost the organization nearly $60 million annually.
The decision came after the Trump administration confirmed that some provisions of the Protect Life rule would take effect Monday, including the so-called “gag rule,” which bars using Title X funds “to perform, refer, or promote abortion as a method of family planning.”
A coalition of 20 states has sued to overturn the changes, but the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals lifted temporary injunctions last week on the rule, forcing Planned Parenthood’s hand.
“It is unethical and dangerous to require health care providers to withhold important information from patients,” said Planned Parenthood top lobbyist Jacqueline Ayers in a statement to NPR. “During this period of limbo while we wait for the court to rule, our affiliates are not using federal Title X funds to provide care. We are continuing to fight this illegal rule in court and to provide care to all people — no matter what.”
Sen. Patty Murray, Washington Democrat, tweeted that the rule will “push @PPFA out of the #TitleX family planning program,” which was fine with Republicans like Rep. Vicky Hartzler of Missouri.
“It does not surprise me that Planned Parenthood has decided to stop accepting family planning funding,” said Ms. Hartzler in a Wednesday statement. “Abortion is their business model, and the Title X grant program provides nearly $60 million annually through mandated abortion referrals and family planning services which often resulted in more abortions.”
Title X provides $286 million annually to clinics that provide family-planning services to low-income clients.
“This rule simply highlights the organization’s priority—making billions of dollars off abortion services rather than providing real health care to women,” said Ms. Hartzler.
Planned Parenthood wasn’t alone. Maine Family Planning announced that it would withdraw from the Title X program “rather than comply with the Trump-Pence #GagRule.”
The Protect Life rule also requires grant recipients to separate their abortion services, both physically and financially, from their other family-planning offerings, a requirement that takes effect March 4, 2020.
“Trump’s #TitleX gag rule is yet another attempt by his administration to strip away women’s reproductive freedom and access to comprehensive, quality health care,” tweeted Sen. Tammy Baldwin, Wisconsin Democrat.
Catherine Glenn Foster, president of Americans United for Life, pushed back against the “gag rule” description, saying that in reality, “no physician in American is being stopped from referring a patient for an abortion—they just can’t demand taxpayer funding to do so.”
“Physicians cannot refer for or promote abortion in a Title X project under the Title X Rule,” said Ms. Foster. “Planned Parenthood and others want to use public Title X funds to support their abortion services in blatant disregard of Congress explicitly and statutorily excluded abortion from the scope of Title X projects and funding.”
The March for Life said that community health centers, which do not provide abortions, outnumber Planned Parenthood clinics by 20 to 1.
“Taxpayer dollars should be going to healthcare providers who provide ACTUAL healthcare,” said the March for Life.
The $60 million in annual Title X grants represents a small percentage of Planned Parenthood’s annual half-billion in federal funding. The organization reported $1.67 billion in revenue in Fiscal Year 2017-18.
Federal law prohibits the use of taxpayer law for abortions except to save the life of the woman or in the cases of rape or incest.