Planned Parenthood just rejected Title X funding—here’s what that means for all of us

For years, anti-abortion protesters and conservative politicians alike have demanded that the federal government defund Planned Parenthood, and, as a result, several states have actively tried to slash the healthcare organization’s funds. The Trump administration has gone to great lengths to target Planned Parenthood as well, implementing a domestic “gag rule” that blocks abortion providers (or clinics that refer patients to abortion providers) from receiving federal Title X funding. This gag rule has severely hindered Planned Parenthood, and on August 19th, the organization announced that it will reject Title X money so it can continue providing and referring patients for abortions.

Alexis McGill Johnson, Planned Parenthood’s acting president, told The New York Times that the organization had opted out of the family planning program because of how the gag rule would have restricted the services it could provide.

"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," she said.

As the Times notes, the organization previously received about $60 million annually through Title X, and it served about 1.5 million people through the program—about 40% of all Title X patients. It started receiving Title X funds when the program was enacted in 1970.

On Twitter, the organization wrote, “The Trump admin is forcing us out of the Title X program.” But it pledged to continue its work despite the new lack of federal money. According to the organization’s website, you can contact your local Planned Parenthood to learn how much services will cost.

The Trump administration has predictably attempted to depict Planned Parenthood as the bad guys for rejecting Title X funding. In a statement to NPR, officials from the Department of Health and Human Services—which implemented the gag rule—said, “Every grantee had the choice to accept the grant and comply with the program’s regulations or not accept the grant if they did not want to comply.” The statement went on to accuse “some grantees” of “abandoning their obligations to serve their patients under the program” because they had chosen not to follow the gag rule.

So, what can patients expect from all this?

McGill Johnson told Time that the organization would use emergency funds to help stay open, but she didn’t say if some Planned Parenthood clinics would be forced to close. She also noted that the changes could lead to longer wait times and much farther travel distances for patients seeking care under Title X. The Guttmacher Institute estimates that without Planned Parenthood, remaining Title X providers will have to increase their number of clients by an average of 47 percent.

In the meantime, the fight to repeal the gag rule will continue. According to Time, Planned Parenthood, along with 20 states and several other healthcare organizations, will challenge the policy in court (again) on September 23rd. There’s no guarantee that this will be successful, but we’re keeping our fingers crossed.

We shouldn’t have to keep saying this, but the gag rule is dangerous. Now, more than ever, is a great time to donate to Planned Parenthood if you can. Its website shows ways you can donate online or via phone call, as well as ways to take action and get involved.

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