President Donald Trump has been threatening to defund reproductive health organizations like Planned Parenthood since the 2016 campaign trail. And since taking office, he has maintained this stance, even signing an executive order in April 2017 that permitted states to stop giving money to abortion providers. On May 18th, Trump is expected to announce policy changes that would, once again, threaten Planned Parenthood and other organizations like it.
The president will reportedly announce new regulations to Title X — a federal grant program that provides money for family planning to organizations benefiting low-income people. According to the New York Times, under these new rules, health care providers that offer abortions — or even refer patients to other places that do — will lose Title X money. As the Times noted, the federal government is already prohibited from directly funding clinics that provide abortions.
“This is an attempt to take away women’s basic rights, period,” Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of Planned Parenthood, told NBC. “Under this rule, people will not get the health care they need. They won’t get birth control, cancer screenings, STD testing and treatment, or even general women’s health exams.”
The new regulations don’t just affect Planned Parenthood, but it is one of the largest Title X recipients. According to Vox, about 41 percent of people who rely on Title X for family planning are served by Planned Parenthood. And the organization (and other beneficiaries) cannot use Title X grants to terminate pregnancies. Instead, money awarded through the program helps subsidize services like STI screenings and birth control.
But the Trump administration argued that these changes don’t amount to defunding the organization.
“This proposal does not necessarily defund Planned Parenthood, as long as they’re willing to disentangle taxpayer funds from abortion as a method of family planning, which is required by the Title X law,” one administration official told CNN.
According to a Planned Parenthood annual report, in 2016 the organization helped 1.8 million people get reversible contraception (like IUDs) in addition to the roughly 400,000 abortions it performed. The organization’s screenings also helped 200,000 people learn they had STIs and detected cancer or abnormalities in more than 75,000 people. In addition, many locations offer hormone therapy for trans people.
Requiring organizations like Planned Parenthood to separate these services from abortion care or risk losing money could jeopardize all of those who rely on the organization — regardless of their reason. Now, as always, we stand by Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers.